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Christie's to Offer Syd Levethan: The Longridge Collection in London
A magnificent embroidered casket dating from the first half of the 17th century, embroidered with the story of Joseph, and estimated at £150,000-£300,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.
LONDON.- Christie’s announced that they will offer Syd Levethan – The Longridge Collection in London on 10 and 11 June 2010. One of the most prominent and distinguished collectors of British and Northern European decorative arts, the late Syd Levethan assembled the Longridge Collection over a period of 30 years and was dedicated to acquiring only the best works of art available to him. He created one of the most comprehensive collections of English delftware, slipware, textiles, medieval bronzes, metalwork, ivory carvings and intricately carved boxes. The collection will offer 300 lots and is expected to realise in excess of £4 million, with individual estimates from £500 to £350,000.

Andrew McVinish, Director of Private Collection sales at Christie’s, London: “We are honoured to be able to present to the market this extraordinary collection assembled by Syd Levethan. This is one of the most outstanding collections of European decorative art, ceramics and furniture, amassed by an individual determined to acquire the best. As a result, every work boasts impeccable quality, and provenance, with many of the items having been acquired at the historic sales of celebrated collections including the `Rous Lench’ Collection, the Billington Collection, the Kassabaum Collection, the Chorley Collection and the Richmond Collection. We look forward to welcoming collectors to Christie’s in June for the auction, which offers the rare chance to acquire historically important treasures of European decorative art.”

Highlights of the Longridge Collection
• Delftware production began in Britain in the 16th century and was introduced from Holland. The collection to be presented at Christie’s is one of the finest ever offered at auction and includes chargers, punchbowls candlesticks, tankards, jugs, wine bottles, drug jars and table wares, all dating to the 1600s and 1700s, many of which are dated and inscribed and commemorate specific reigns of monarchs or historic events. Delftware forms the largest part of the Longridge Collection, among the many important pieces offered are an English delftware polychrome Royal armorial heart-shaped apothecary's tile dated 1664 (estimate: £70,000 to £100,000). Over 20 chargers and wares painted with portraits of the reigning monarchs of the Houses of Stuart and Hannover (estimates range from £10,000 to £120,000). Further highlights include a London delft pharmacy jar with the Arms of the Worship Society of Apothecaries, dated 1656 (estimate £50,000-80,000) from a group of seven pharmacy wares; and a London delft ‘bleu Persan’ posset pot and cover, circa 1680 (estimate: £25,000 to £40,000).

• Slipware is earthenware decorated with coloured ‘slip’, or liquid clay which became particularly popular in Britain during the reign of King Charles II. Syd Levethan assembled one of the finest private collections in the world, highlights of which include a Staffordshire slipware inscribed and dated dish by Ralph Toft made in 1676 (estimate: £70,000 to £100,000). Further examples include an English incised slipware Royal armorial dish from 1748, probably made in Barnstaple, North Devon (estimate: £50,000 to £80,000) and an English press-moulded slipware dish circa 1700-1730, probably made in Staffordshire (estimate: £20,000 to £30,000).

• The collection also features an impressive range of furniture, tankards, bowls and works of art and one of the greatest private collections of early treen (an ancient term for a variety of objects hewn and turned from wood). The Hickstead Place Wassail Bowl is possibly the earliest survivor of its type having been made circa 1600. Turned from sycamore, it was originally in Hickstead Place in Twineham, Sussex, the seat of the Royalist Stapley family at the turn of the 17th century. Sold in 1951 together with six Chinese decorated bowls for three pounds and five shillings, it is expected to realise £20,000 to £30,000 at Christie’s in June. A rare Norwegian burr Birch peg tankard from the workshop of Samuel Halvorsen Fanden is dated 1693 and has been adapted at a later date with a silver mount and stand for the Owen-Bulkeley family of Tedsmore Hall, West Felton, Shropshire. It is expected to realise £40,000 to £60,000. A Charles I Turner’s throne chair made circa 1640, most likely in Wales, carries an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000. Known as Turner’s chairs due to the fact that each part is turned on a pole-lathe by a wood-turner, this is a particularly fine example made from Yew wood. A German bronze figure of a Landsknecht, circa 1520-1540, will be offered with an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000.

The collection also includes one of the most impressive groups of 17th century English needlework to be found in private hands. The collection celebrates the best in English needlework of the 17th century, the work of both domestic and professional embroiderers. A high level of skills was required of young ladies who began with samplers at an early age and worked their way up towards their embroidered casket. This collection includes both charmingly naïve and sophisticated examples of the needlewoman’s art.

Belonging very clearly to the latter category is the magnificent Charles II embroidered mirror surround, the cover lot from the ground-breaking Richmond Collection sale held in these rooms in 1987. The cover is worked with a portrait of a King and Queen, possibly an idealized Henrietta Maria and Charles I, alongside emblems of harmony, probably conceived as a celebration of the institution of marriage. The mirror is initialed MP, possibly for Margaret Penn, the sister of the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, and is expected to realize £80,000-120,000.

The star of the collection is a magnificent embroidered casket dating from the first half of the 17th century, embroidered with the story of Joseph, and estimated at £150,000-£350,000. Most intriguingly, the casket was found to contain a silk sweet-meat purse with the embroideress’s name, Jean Morris, and the date 1600, a matching embroidered quill or knife case, a book mark and two silk-bound quills. These undoubtedly were all the work of the same needlewoman, the unknown Jean Morris, leading us to wonder whether she also embroidered the magnificent casket in which her prized needlework was found.

Several other embroidered pictures with Richmond provenance and many others worked with the biblical themes so popular with both Syd Levethan and the needlewomen of the 17th century are represented in the collection, ranging in price from £3000 to £30,000.

Christie's | Syd Levethan | Andrew McVinish |


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