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Works of Art from the Spencer Collections Realise $32 Million at Christie's
Employees pose for photographers on an early Victorian private coach capable of transporting around ten people at Christie's South Kensington in London. The carriage was auctioned in the Althorp Attic Sale, and is one of the carriages among the highlights of selection of works from Althorp and Spencer House, the historic London home of the Spencer family. AP Photo/Akira Suemori.

LONDON.- Christie’s offered a selection of works from the Spencer Collections this week at their London salerooms. The auctions realised a total of £21,076,288 / $31,989,353 / €25,360,494. The top price was paid for A Commander being armed for Battle by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) which sold for £9,001,250 / $13,663,898 / €10,846,506 at the evening auction of Old Master & 19th Century Art on 6 July.

The Trustees of Althorp Estate: “For the sales this week we carefully chose a selection of works from Althorp that could be offered at public auction while maintaining the breadth and integrity of the core Spencer collections. The Trustees are pleased that the auctions at Christie's attracted such significant worldwide interest from both collectors and public institutions, and that they realised a total of £21.1 million. The sales have released capital that will make it possible for us to further diversify our assets, particularly in the acquisition, development and retention of commercial and residential property. This will support our fundamental aim of ensuring that the Althorp Estate thrives for future generations.”

Orlando Rock, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Europe, and Andrew Waters, Head of Private Collection and Country House sales, London: “Over hundreds of years the Spencer family have amassed one of the finest aristocratic collections in Britain, and we were honoured to have been able to present a small selection at Christie’s in London this week. These sales captured the imagination and interest of collectors and institutions from around the world, as seen in particular by the volume of people that have visited the London salerooms to see and admire the pre-sale exhibitions. The individual estimates for these sales ranged from £200 to £8 million, creating an exciting series of auctions that were accessible to collectors at almost every level, and the results reflect the enduring appeal of the Spencer family, and their discerning taste through successive generations.”

Old Masters and 19th Century Art – 6 July 2010
The auction of Old Masters and 19th Century Art on 6 July 2010 offered two works from the Spencer Collections. A Commander being armed for Battle, a masterpiece portrait by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) sold for £9,001,250 / $13,663,898 / €10,846,506, the second highest price for the artist at auction. King David, a monumental work by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Il Guercino (1591-1666), realised £5,193,250 / $7,883,354 / €6,257,866 – a record price for the artist at auction.

A Commander being armed for Battle by Rubens was a comparatively late arrival to the Spencer collections, having only been at Althorp since 1802 when it hung as an overdoor. King David by Guercino was acquired in Rome through the Scottish painter and dealer Gavin Hamilton by John, 1st Earl Spencer in 1768 and was bought specifically to hang in the Great Room at Spencer House. It remained there until the 1920s when the 7th Earl Spencer, faced with declining agricultural rents and rising costs, took the difficult decision to give up Spencer House and take the works of art northwards to Althorp.

The Althorp Attic Sale: Including The Spencer Carriages – 7 and 8 July
The 2 day auction of contents from the attics, stables and cellars at Althorp including the Spencer carriages offered 757 lots including coronation chairs, Coachmen's livery, Butler's trays, kitchen copper jelly moulds and several centuries of textiles – with estimates from £200. Over 1,000 different people bid at the auction which realised £2,024,038 / $3,058,321 / €2,426,822 - more than doubling pre-sale expectations. The international demand was illustrated by the locations of some of the clients who bid via the internet, including those from Albania, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, Morocco and the Philippines. The top price was paid for The Spencer State Chariot which sold for £133,250 / $201,341 / €159,767 against an estimate of £50,000 to £80,000.

A further highlight was a collection of military uniforms made by the Hawkes and Co. in 1911 for Viscount Althorp, later the 7th Earl Spencer, who served as a Captain in the Life Guards during the First World War, which was bought by Gieves & Hawkes for £30,000 (estimate: £2,500-3,000). They will be added to the firm’s archive at the Gieves & Hawkes Archive Rooms at No. 1 Savile Row, London.

The Spencer House Sale – 8 July 2010
The auction took place at King Street and offered an important selection of 78 lots of furniture, works of art and porcelain formerly from Spencer House, the London town house of the Spencer family until 1924 (which is still owned by the family, but is leased to tenants). The sale sold 70 lots and realised £4,857,750 / $7,383,780 / €5,829,300. The top price was paid for a pair of George II sabicu and lime open armchairs almost certainly designed by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart which which realised £802,850 / $1,220,332 / €963,420 against a pre-sale estimate of £200,000 to £300,000.

Christie's | Orlando Rock | Andrew Waters | Spencer Collections |

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