The eldest daughter of Britains last Viceroy of India Louis Mountbatten, Patricia Knatchbull was the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, great niece of Russias last Tsarina and first cousin to Prince Philip, living her eminent life at the heart of a dazzling dynasty of royal and political relations.
The 376 items sold at auction today came from Newhouse, Patricias charming eighteenth-century home, which she shared with her husband John Knatchbull, 7th Lord Brabourne. Over 1,400 participants from 55 countries drove the total to £5,620,798 / $7,729,721, over three times the pre-sale estimate (est. £1,414,430 2,102,600), with 98% of lots sold.
An auction like today, with its heady mix of history and glamour, does not come up very often, and so it has been a truly special experience to be a part of. Over the course of the last two months, it has been wonderful to see Lady Mountbattens collection received so rapturously by people from all over the world, culminating in todays sale where her belongings found brand new homes where they will be treasured for years to come a fitting tribute to her legacy of courage, grace and, above all, warmth. --David Macdonald, Sothebys
Specialist and Head of the Sale
Runaway Successes of the Sale
A historic Jaguar 420, commissioned by Lord Mountbatten in 1967 (Lot 385) and built to special order in the unique blue colours of his livery, races to £126,000 (est. £10,000-20,000).
A group of four pieces of mourning jewellery belonging to Queen Victoria (Lot 299, 300, 301, 302), Patricias great-great-grandmother, all more than doubled their estimates, bringing a combined £100,800. Earlier in the sale, an Indian bracelet carrying a miniature of Prince Albert as a boy (Lot 298), worn by Queen Victoria when she informed her ministers of her intention to wed, sold for £40,320.
A charming Lacloche Frères pig-shaped evening bag (Lot 325), crafted circa 1905 - the eyes set with cabochon rubies and the tail and trotters set with rose-cut diamonds trots its way to £109,620, a figure 44 times its estimate of £2,000-3,000.
A portrait of Matthew Parker (1504-1575), the Archbishop of Canterbury, by a Follower of Hans Holbein the Younger (Lot 14) soared to £189,000, more than 75 times its estimate of £2,000-3,000.
Leading the selection of impressive jades in the sale, a rare pale celadon jade teapot, Qing Dynasty (Lot 235), sold for £176,400, eighteen times its estimate. The piece was among a group formerly in the collection of legendary collector Sir Ernest Cassel, who was financial advisor to King Edward VII and Patricias great-grandfather.
Inscribed Edwina from Dickie, a pair of gold enamel elephants (Lot 317)made in Jaipur which served as a twenty-fourth wedding anniversary gift from Lord Mountbatten to his wife sold for £34,020, fourteen times their estimate.
The Banks Diamond (Lot 343): A late 18th century brooch with a cushion-shaped yellow diamond given to explorer and botanist Joseph Banks by his eccentric sister Sarah around the time of his marriage in 1779 sold for £138,600 (est. £40,000-60,000).
A unique enamel Girl Guide bracelet (Lot 374), gifted by Louis Mountbatten to his daughter Patricia on the occasion of her 21st birthday, sold for thirty times its estimate at £15,120. The bracelet is personal memento of the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, formed in 1937 so that the then Princess Elizabeth, now HM Queen Elizabeth II, could become a Girl Guide.
A Fabergé gold-mounted cigarette case (Lot 290) and Imperial enamel timepiece (Lot 44), bought by the last Tsar and Tsarina as gifts for the parents of Louis Mountbatten, both soared above their estimates, selling for £47,880 and £81,900 respectively.
With its profusion of multicoloured carved rubies, emeralds and sapphires, a Tutti Frutti style necklace (Lot 335) designed as an wreath of carved leaves, brought a double-estimate £107,100.
Formerly hung in Lady Mountbatten's Drawing Room, a beautiful portrait of Jane Monins by John Michael Wright (Lot 38) sold for £176,400, more than double its pre-sale estimate. A further ancestral portrait, depicting Sir Norton Knatchbull, 1st Baronet (Lot 109), also sold for an above-estimate £176,400.
A painting of Mary Harvey (1629-1705), the first British female composer to have had her works published (Lot 114), sets a record for Thomas Hawker, who was one of Sir Peter Lelys chief studio assistants, at a triple-estimate £37,800.
A portrait of Patricia as a young girl by Raymond Kanelba (Lot 82) used to hang in her glamorous mother Edwina's bedroom at her London dwelling on Wilton Crescent. Today it set a record for the artist at £22,680, exceeding its estimate by 38 times. A portrait of Edwina herself (Lot 304) also set a record, for Count Uberto Pallastrelli di Celleri, at £7,560, when it sold for multiples of its estimate.
A novelty silver table cigar lighter in the form of a grenade (Lot 125), dating to 1917, went off with a bang, selling for £15,120 60 times its pre-sale estimate.