• Hearts of Oak auction at Christies

    Sale 5982

    Hearts of Oak

    2 December 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 1


    CIRCA 1800

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1800
    With silver rim
    5¼ in. (13.5 cm.) high
    And a William and Mary fruitwood ladle with baluster stem and turned bowl - 13¾ in. (35 cm.) long (2)

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    The goblet:
    Oak, Country Furniture, Folk Art and Works of Art, Christie's South Kensington, 3 July 2002, lot 544.
    The ladle:
    Acquired from Alistair Sampson, London.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Hearts of Oak:
    Three Private Collections

    "The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well"

    Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717-1797)

    Almost one in three of us collect something; the gathering of objects is a universal phenomenon and yet we bring together works of art in different ways. If there is one thing that interests me profoundly, it is that process of discovery revealing the secret of what makes a collection. Hearts of Oak presents the property of three collectors, each with a shared commitment to quality and tradition and an innate understanding of those individual pieces that complement one another to form a comprehensible whole, in order to 'sing', as it were, 'with one heart'.

    Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford was a man of letters, antiquarian, politician, patron of the arts, and perhaps, above all else, best remembered by auctioneers as a voracious collector. The historic sale of 1842 which dispersed the contents of Strawberry Hill to the four winds took thirty-two days and raised £33,000. For Walpole, the thrill of acquisition was always tempered by a realisation that any collection remains ephemeral - subject to the vagaries of fate, and open to renewal and change. The Property of an American Collector follows in this tradition, relinquishing treasured furniture, works of art, tapestries and early ceramics amassed over the past twenty years, necessary to bring new life to an evolving collection.

    The Late Richard Kingston (1939-2007) started collecting at the age of 21 with the purchase of a Grinling Gibbons carving. This early purchase set him on a life course pursuing the rare and eclectic. He was known as the 'quiet oak man of Kent', drifting unnoticed from the saleroom with his new treasures. He never sought the limelight and was never happier than sitting with friends discussing his extensive group of 15th, 16th and 17th century carvings, entitled 'The Kingston Panels'. Richard's passion extended from the ornate and sculptural, to the quotidian and humble; his pleasure was to be found in each object and his wish to sell the Collection is a gift to a new generation of collector.

    Rosalie Wise Sharp, author of Ceramics: Ethics & Scandal, (2002) sees this sale as an opportunity to pass on to a new generation 'the thrill of the chase' and her belief that collecting is an art in itself - both a 'connection to the past' and 'even a hedge against mortality'. Sharp has scoured salerooms, markets and studied in museums to bring together a captivating array of ceramics; just a selection is offered for sale here. A printed and painted William Greatbatch creamware teapot depicting Augustus Keppel and a Staffordshire saltglaze tyg celebrating Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, are two highlights that embody the spirit of The Royal Navy's anthem Hearts of Oak. Sharp's collection is broad in scope, vibrant in colour and fascinating as a tangible insight into British social history. Though a Canadian and resident of Toronto, Rosalie Sharp has always held England and the English tradition in high regard.

    Our three collectors follow Walpole's example - "Philosophers make systems, and we simpletons collections for we know that in a few years our rarities will be dispersed at auction". Hearts of Oak brings together the rarities of three eminent Private Collectors; we trust they will engage your profound interest and encourage you to bid on a thousand things well!

    Andrew McVinish,
    Director, Private Collections & Country House Sales.