The Chatsworth Attic Sale
October 19, 2010 1 Comment
At the beginning of October Chatsworth House held a three day auction of furniture and personal artefacts belonging to the Devonshire family. With over 20,000 objects for sale we felt sure that there would be some interesting and Enlightenment related lots. The catalogue was excitedly passed around and Ros Westwood, Derbyshire Museums Manager went to have a look at some of the objects in person.
We decided to bid on lot 279, lot 423 and lot 453. Things started off well as we successfully secured lot 279 – the lot we were most interested in. We are now the proud owners of six John Bluck early 19th century prints of Derbyshire that show scenes of popular places such as Dovedale and Matlock Bath.
Things didn’t go as smoothly on the other two lots as the hammer fell way above their estimated price (and our bid!). The first was an Ashford Black Marble table that went for a whopping £19,000 which was four times its estimate. The table was unusual as it featured a dragonfly and a large band of Duke’s Red marble. The second item was a patch box – a souvenir of Buxton – that also soared past its £150 – £200 estimate and realised £1000.
These two lots weren’t in anyway unusual in smashing their estimates; it was a general theme of the auction. It seemed that the allure of owning something linked to the great house and the Devonshire family put an understandable premium on everything. Perhaps the most extreme example is of a brooch that went for 106 times its estimate. The brooch belonged to the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and was estimated at £80 – £100, the hammer fell at £8,500. The total auction raised nearly £6.5 million, which was £4 million more than expected.
The six prints that Enlightenment! bought will be undergoing some conservation work and should hopefully go on display at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery next year.