Queen Victoria's silk bloomers for sale
Old Battersea House, situated on the South bank of the Thames upstream from Sir Christopher Wren’s Chelsea Hospital, is the London home of the Forbes family, the American publishing dynasty. The contents of the house, valued at up to £4 million, is being sold, today, November 1st, in Edinburgh by auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull.
Built in the late 17th century on Tudor foundations and now a Grade II listed building, the house may also have been designed by Wren. The Forbes family acquired the property in 1970 and it was restored by the late Malcolm Forbes and his son Christopher ‘Kip’ Forbes, now Vice Chairman of Forbes. European royalty, Ronald Reagan and Elizabeth Taylor all stayed in the house and it became home to one of the largest private collections of Victorian art.
The catalogue for today’s auction is impressive: over 250 paintings, antique furniture and works of art, and a large collection of royal memorabilia, including a signed photograph of Queen Victoria, her bloomers, nightgown and several pairs of silk stockings. Each pair of stockings is estimated to sell for between £500 and £800; the bloomers and the nightgown are each valued at up to £3000.
A Broadwood grand piano, designed by Charles Robert Ashbee and played by Lord Lloyd Webber on the occasion of Christopher Forbes 50th birthday, is also for sale. The collection of paintings includes works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a painting of Queen Victoria on horseback with her personal servant John Brown by Charles Burton Barber, Sir John Everett Millais' For The Squire and Sir Edward Burne-Jones' The Princess Chained To A Tree, which may fetch over £500,000 each.
Simon Edsor, director of The Fine Art Society and Art Adviser to the Forbes family, explained the significance of the family’s collection of Victorian memorabilia:
The Royal Collection is a real snap shot of Queen Victoria’s life in particular; with personal letters and family paintings, alongside items of an even more personal nature. Examples of the Queen’s belongings have long been considered the crowning glory for Victoriana collectors.
From the archive:
Queen Victoria inherited the 'Buckingham House' from her uncle, William IV, in 1837, when she was just eighteen years old. Patricia Wright looks at the chequered origins and troubled early years of London's royal landmark.
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