Auctions | June 1, 2015

Christie’s Offers the Library of the Late Anthony Hobson and Other Country House Collections

South Kensington—On 17 June Christie’s South Kensington will offer Three Country House Collections: Glebe House, the Property of the late Mr. Anthony Hobson; Mont Pellier, the Property of the late Mrs. Barbara Overland and Woodbury House, the Property of the late The Hon. Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Samuel. These three country house collections perfectly encapsulate the English home and together they present a superb selection of English and European furniture, Old Master paintings and drawings, decorative objects, silver and porcelain. The sale comprises over 350 lots with estimates ranging from £500 to £50,000. The pre-auction viewing at Christie’s 85 Old Brompton Road will be open from 12 to 16 June for connoisseurs, decorators and collectors alike to explore the essence of the English country house.



The late Anthony Hobson, a bibliophile of great distinction, and a world expert on Renaissance bookbinding, was appointed Head of Sotheby’s Book department when he was only 27, as well as being a past president of the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie (1985-1999). He was also a lifelong collector of art and furniture and amassed an extensive collection on which the taste of his wife, Tanya Vinogradoff, the granddaughter of the painter Algernon Newton, R.A, was also a significant influence.

Hobson was endlessly curious and maintained a voracious appetite for acquisition resulting in a collection which ranged with confidence across periods and registers. Medieval Persian, Neoclassical, 18th century Indian, Regency, Pre-Raphaelite - all individual delights which became part of a much larger whole in the beautiful Queen Anne Glebe House, Hampshire, where he lived for the last 55 years of his life. This sale is testament to an exceptional life led by the man singled out by Cyril Connolly as among the most ‘impressive scholar aesthetes of our day’. Highlights from the Hobson collection include The interior of St Peter’s, Rome by Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg (estimate: £20,000-30,000), alongside exceptional examples of English furniture and lighting, such as a pair of Louis XVI ormolu twin-branch wall-lights (estimate: £7,000-10,000), and a George II parcel-gilt mahogany rusticated architectural cabinet (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

Hobson’s remarkable library will also be offered at Christie’s South Kensington this June across two sales. The sale of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts on 9 June includes scarce editions of the earliest known auction catalogues and inventories of the finest libraries in Europe from Hobson’s bibliographic library. Of immense importance to bibliographic study and provenance research, the library includes a first edition of the earliest Paris book auction which was held in 1706, sixty years before Christie’s held its first sale (estimate: £1,000-1,500). On 10 June Christie’s presents the sale of Modern Literature: the Personal Collection of Anthony Hobson; a truly personal collection in every sense, very many of the books, editions, and manuscripts are affectionately inscribed with a message to Hobson from the authors with whom he became such great friends. Amongst the highlights are first edition presentation copies of Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim (estimate: £1,800-2,500) and a complete set of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time (estimate: £5,000-8,000). Additionally, the sale includes a collection of love letters between the heiress and avant-garde literary muse Nancy Cunard and the African-American jazz musician Henry Crowder, containing a number of Cecil Beaton photographs of her (estimate: £3,000-5,000). These auctions present a unique opportunity to acquire a part of this illustrious library. 



The Overland family lived in Jersey for over 40 years, where they enjoyed the amenities of rural life and the unique privacy that the Channel Islands offer. They created a very special atmosphere at their house, Mont Pellier, which can be seen in the dedication and pride the late Mrs. Barbara Overland took in furnishing her home with English furniture, Old Master Paintings and decorative objects.

The pieces in her collection were acquired with great care and thought to enhance the serene interiors, which were so characteristic of Mont Pellier, such as the perfectly formed George II mahogany chest (estimate: £4,000-6,000) and the captivating trompe l’oeil painting of a letter rack by Edward Collier, acquired from Rafael Valls, London (estimate: £20,000-30,000). Further highlights include a George III polychrome-painted dummy-board (estimate: £3,000-5,000) and a group of ceramic fruit and vegetables by Anne Gordon (in two lots with estimates from £1,000).

The proceeds of the sale of the collection of the late Mrs. Barbara Overland will go to benefit the ongoing work of the charitable trust set up in the memory of the Overlands for generations to come.



 Woodbury House, an elegant Regency gothic villa in Hampshire, was the last home of the Hon. Mr and Mrs Anthony Samuel. Anthony Samuel was the younger son of Colonel Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, and a grandson of Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted, the founder of The ‘Shell’ Transport and Trading Company, which in 1907 merged with its rival to form Royal Dutch Shell. After serving in the SOE during the Second World War, Samuel joined the family bank, Hill Samuel, as well as having interests in publishing, representing prominent authors such as P.G. Wodehouse. He also ventured into the world of horse racing owning several winners. In 1966 he married his third wife, the actress Mercy Haystead (1930-2015). Mercy rose to fame as a model and actress after being ‘discovered’ whilst holidaying in Positano in 1949 and was well known during the 1950s for her roles in films, such as What the Butler Saw and The Admirable Crichton.

The Samuels were renowned as generous hosts. They had houses in London and Scotland and frequently travelled to their suite in the Algonquin Hotel, New York. Their sophisticated London house on St. Leonard’s Terrace, Chelsea, had rich interiors designed by David Hicks, whilst their Scottish country house Arndilly, on the banks of the Spey, provided a more restrained setting, acting as a retreat from London and as a base from which country sports could be pursued and enjoyed.

Arndilly House was sold when the couple sought a quieter life and it was at this point that they acquired Woodbury House, a former rectory in Hampshire. A genteel decorative scheme was adopted, which not only suited the house’s rural location, but also its Regency architecture. It was decorated by Simon Playle under the keen eye of the ever stylish Mrs. Samuel. The Samuels had long been keen collectors. Their possessions had been inherited, collected and assembled over many decades and displayed all the characteristics of the discerning collector’s eye. Their collection of paintings ranged from Old Masters to the works of the Impressionist Edouard Vuillard, the Victorian painter John Atkinson Grimshaw and the 20th century artist Nicolas de Staël, the works of the latter being sold at Christie’s following the sale of the couple’s London home in 2008.

Highlights from Woodbury House include a painting of Two greyhounds in a wooded landscape with Parham House and a temple beyond (estimate: £10,000-15,000), a set of ten walnut rococo-style dining chairs (estimate: £3,000-5,000) and a set of four George III silver candlesticks and a pair of twin branch candelabra en suite (estimate: £6,000-8,000). La vie conjugale (Married Life) by Edouard Vuillard will be offered on 23 June in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale at Christie’s King Street (estimate: £500,000-800,000) and Rouen - les lumières sur la Seine, pris du Pont de Pierre by John Atkinson Grimshaw will be offered on 8 July at Christie’s South Kensington in the Victorian, Pre Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art, Sporting and Maritime Art sale (estimate: £80,000-120,000).

Auction dates:

Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, including the Anthony Hobson Collection of Bibliography

9 June 2015

10:00 am and 2 pm, Christie’s South Kensington


Modern Literature: the Personal Collection of Anthony Hobson

10 June 2015

10:00 am and 2 pm, Christie’s South Kensington


Glebe House, Mont Pellier and Woodbury House: Three Country House Collections

17 June 2015

10:00 am, Christie’s South Kensington