Works From the Wormington Manor at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s announced that they have been instructed to sell the contents of Wormington Manor, Wormington, near Broadway, Worcestershire. The auction of more than 850 lots will take place on-site in three sessions on Monday & Tuesday, July 21 & 22, 2003 and is estimated to fetch in excess of ?1,000,000.

Wormington Manor was the elegant home of the internationally renowned Interior Decorator Christopher Rowley, who ran his business from Lower Sloane Street in Belgravia, until his death in April 2003. The sale will include his private collection of English and continental furniture, clocks & watches, numerous paintings, European and Oriental ceramics & glass, works of art, silver & vertu, textiles and carpets. These typify the style and character of a man who had a passion for beautiful objects and a reputation for creating distinctive houses both as a profession, and for his own personal use and enjoyment.

Christopher Rowley was a man with great style, who loved life and had a wonderfully infectious sense of humour – and was a true English Gentleman. Early in his working life, he bought a farm in Ireland and was known to have transported pigs to market in his Rolls Royce! After a period in the United States, he returned to London, and having decided to pursue a career in interior design, he opened his first shop at the far end of the King’s Road, before moving to 69 Lower Sloane Street in 1963. This elegant small shop, which was to be his headquarters for the next 40 years, became a great meeting place for his large circle of clients and friends from all walks of life.

He transformed beautifully a wide variety of houses, apartments and gardens in Britain, the US, Belgium and Portugal. In his work, he always had innovative ideas, a precise eye for detail, and was passionate about the sensitive use of colour. Among the many important houses that he redecorated were Inverary Castle (the home of the Duke of Argyll), Locko Park, near Spondon, Derbyshire (the home of the Drury-Lowe family) and Kedleston Hall, near Derby (the home of the Curzon family).

Christopher, whose father was Lt. Col. Sir William Rowley, 6th Bart, was particularly proud of his illustrious forbears. A number had distinguished Naval careers in the 18th and 19th centuries and were made Baronets, notably those of Tendring, Suffolk, and of Hill House, Berkshire.

Christopher loved to visit antique shops and auctions and always ‘kept his eyes peeled’ for objects that related to his family. Naturally a number of items in Sotheby’s sale relate to the history of the Rowley family including a portrait of Elizabeth King who married Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Rowley in 1797, and is reputed to have been a mistress of William, Duke of Clarence who later became William IV. This fine half-length portrait of the sitter wearing a red dress, fur-trimmed coat and a green velvet hat by George Sanders is estimated at ?3,000-5,000.

From the next decade is a group portrait attributed to the Italian artist Pietro Benvenuti depicting George Rowley of Priory Hill, St Neots, Cambridgeshire with his sisters, Mary and Charlotte, in the Boboli

Gardens, Florence, which is estimated at ?10,000-15,000. A half-length portrait of George Rowley by Tilly Kettle is estimated at ?6,000-8,000.

In 1828, Richard Freeman Rowley, the son of Admiral Sir Charles Rowley Bt., married Elizabeth Angerstein – a member of the illustrious banking family and whose collection of paintings formed the nucleus of the National Gallery in 1824. Several pieces relating to the Angerstein family will be offered in Sotheby’s sale. A portrait from the studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence of John Angerstein Esq, MP (1773-1858) is estimated at ?4,000-6,000, while a white marble bust of John Julius Angerstein JP, DL (1800-66) of Weeting Hall, Norfolk by the Irish Sculptor John Henry Foley is estimated at ?1,000-1,500.

Christopher Rowley owned various properties throughout his life including Barrow Green Court, Surrey and The Stud House near Hampton Court. Prior to living at Wormington Manor, he lived for 13 years at Hill Court, near Ross-on-Wye. Various items relating to the history of Hill Court will be in the sale. A portrait of Richard Clarke, eldest son of Joseph Clarke, who was responsible for the remodeling and extension of Hill Court in the early 18th century, is estimated at ?6,000-8,000.

Other notable highlights in the sale include an early Louis XV rare fruitwood inlaid kingwood and marquetry commode, circa 1735. Of serpentine form, it is estimated at ?20,000-30,000, while a Gobelin tapestry of similar date depicting The Elements is estimated at ?12,000-15,000. More unusual items include more than 20 German and Austrian 18th and 19th century porcelain tankards that carry estimates from ?300 upwards.

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Published in: on June 8, 2003 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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