A large pair of silk bloomers belonging to Queen Victoria, sold for £9,375, at Lyon & Turnbulls
auction of the antique treasures from Old Battersea House, the London home of the Forbes family, the US publishing dynasty.
The sale made a total of over £3 million and included an oil painting of Queen Victoria and her faithful servant, John Brown, which made £145,250. Nick Curnow Managing Director and Painting Specialist at Lyon & Turnbull said The twenty inches by twenty four inches painting by Charles Burton Barber is particularly valuable because it was a personal gift from the Queen to Brown and shows the pair on August 26, 1876, the year Brown celebrated his fiftieth birthday.
Charles Burton Barber was born at Great Yarmouth in 1845. Barber was a particular favourite of Queen Victoria and he produced a number of pictures for her. When Barber died in 1894, at the age of forty nine, the Queen sent an aide to his funeral, with a wreath bearing the message : "A mark of admiration and regard from Victoria R.I.
The sale also included over five hundred royal paintings, letters, furniture and other items form their London home, which has played host to the worlds rich and famous, including Ronald Reagan, European Royalty and Elizabeth Taylor, who stayed at the house on her honeymoon.
Simon Edsor, Director of The Fine Art Society and art adviser to the Forbes family said This is a great result and demonstrates how much interest from around the globe there is in Royal memorabilia.
The Forbes family decided to sell the contents of their London mansion at Lyon & Turnbull, because of their love of Scotland and in recognition to their Highland roots. Paintings by Sir John Everett Millais For The Squire sold for £553,092 and a painting by Sir Edward Burne-Jones The Princess Chained To A Tree made £505,000. Malcolm Forbes was a great collector of pre- Raphaelite and Victorian art, as well as royal memorabilia. Other items in the sale included a four-poster bed that Elizabeth Taylor slept in with her seventh husband, Lord Fortensky which made £9,375.
A painting titled The Penny Bank was bought for £79,250 by The Fleming Collection. Selina Skipwith of The Fleming Collection said The painting is by the Scottish artist Sir George Harvey, who is to date, not represented in the Fleming Collection. We were also keen on the picture because of its subject matter as the Fleming Collection was founded by The Fleming Bank in 1968.
In 1970 Old Battersea House was acquired by the Forbes family and painstakingly and sympathetically restored by Malcolm Forbes and his son Christopher "Kip" Forbes, who is Vice Chairman of the Forbes Publishing company, under the guidance of architect Vernon Gibberd.