Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Image of a suite of George III giltwood seat furniture, attributed to John Linnell, circa 1765-1770. Comprising three pairs of armchairs : each $70,000-110,000 (£47,000-73,000) and a settee: $50,000-80,000 (£34,000-53,000.) Photo © Christie’s Images Limited 2010. All rights reserved.

The Remarkable Journey of the Stansted Park Suite to be offered on November 23 at Christie's in New York

On November 23, Christie's 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, including Oriental Carpets will include pieces from the historic Stansted Park suite of giltwood seat furniture,comprising three pairs of armchairs and a settee (estimate: $70,000-110,000 per pair of chairs and $50,000-80,000 for the settee). This sale marks the third time that Christie’s will have offered the suite in the past 100 years since it left Stansted. This elegant suite was almost certainly commissioned by the 2nd Earl of Halifax (the statesman for whom Halifax, Nova Scotia is named) for his stately mansion at Stansted Park in Sussex. It remained there until a fire consumed the building in 1900. It was sold at Christie’s in 1911 when it entered a glamorous new chapter among America’s collecting elite.

Image of Whitemarsh Hall, provided by Christie's
© Library of Congress. All rights reserved.
Eleven chairs and two settees (including the offered lot) were acquired by Duveen’s great client, the financier Edward Stotesbury (d. 1938), a partner to J.P. Morgan and one of Philadelphia’s most prominent patrons. He was worth over $100 million at the height of his career. The suite was placed in his palatial mansion Whitemarsh Hall, a monument to American wealth and society in the early 20th century (illustrated right at Whitemarsh Hall, circa 1922). Known as ‘the Versailles of America’, Whitemarsh was built by the most outstanding artisans of the day: Horace Trumbauer was the architect, while Duveen orchestrated the interiors together with the Royal decorator Sir Charles Allom and the Parisian firm of Avaloine.
Courtesy of the Huntington Library, Art Collections,
and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. All rights reserved.

The suite was then acquired by Anna Thomson Dodge, the widow of automobile magnate Horace Dodge and one of the richest women in the world. She used the same team of Trumbauer, Duveen, and Alavoine to create an equally impressive Rose Terrace on Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Farms, which was primarily furnished with French 18th century furniture, much of it Royal. The suite was sold at Christie’s as part of the celebrated series of sales in 1970 and 1971. It was then placed on long-term loan at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California where it sat beneath Britain’s most famous portraits including Gainsborough’s Blue Boy (the suite illustrated above at the Huntington Library).

Five further chairs and a settee from the Stansted suite have been used by Prime Ministers and visiting dignitaries at 10 Downing Street in London since acquired in 1946. There are various wonderful depictions of world leaders seated in the chairs and Margaret Thatcher’s painted portrait at the Carlton Club shows her seated in a Stansted chair.

The refined design is produced during a prime moment of classicism in England as promoted by the architect Robert Adam for his most sophisticated patrons. Each piece is capped by a ribbon-wrapped portrait medallion. The suite is attributed to preeminent London maker and designer John Linnell, known among today’s connoisseurs, particularly for his extensive commission at Osterley Park. Auction: 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, including Oriental Carpets November 23 Viewing: Christie's Rockefeller Galleries November 19-22

About Christie’s

Christie’s, the world's leading art business had global auction and private sales in 2009 that totaled £2.1 billion/$3.3 billion. For the first half of 2010, art sales totaled £1.7 billion/$2.57 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's conducted the greatest auctions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and today remains a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 sales annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s has 53 offices in 32 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in emerging and new markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.

*Estimates do not include buyer's premium

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