RELEASE: PROPERTY FROM THE PORTLAND COLLECTION AT CHRISTIE’S IN NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

Magnificent Jewels, Fabergé, Old Masters and Sculpture

London

Christie’s announce an historic opportunity for connoisseurs around the globe in late November and early December, when a magnificent selection of jewellery, Fabergé, old master paintings and sculpture will be offered from collections of the Dukes of Portland, in a series of auctions in London.

22 lots will be showcased in four auctions over two weeks: Russian Art on Tuesday 29 November; Jewels: The London Sale on Wednesday 1st December; Old Masters & 19th Century Art on Tuesday 7th and 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe on Thursday 9th. Highlights are led by the re-appearance of The Combat between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564-1637/8 Antwerp) (estimate: £2,000,000–3,000,000), a sumptuous antique diamond and natural pearl brooch, with three drops, 1870 (estimate: £500,000-700,000) and an exceptionally rare terracotta bust of John Locke, 1755, by Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770) (estimate: £600,000-900,000). With estimates ranging from £4,000 to £3 million, Property from The Portland Collection is expected to realise in excess of £6 million.

Edward Clive, Director of Christie’s: “The collections of the Dukes of Portland were undoubtedly among the most illustrious in England. Christie’s is honoured to be entrusted with presenting such outstanding jewels and works of art to the international market, at a time when refined appreciation of quality, beauty and provenance is paired with a notable hunger for ‘the best’. These sales provide a remarkable and highly evocative window to the world of a great family collection.

The Portland family descended from Hans Willem Bentinck (1649-1709), one of William of Orange’s closest allies during and after his ascent to the English throne in 1688. In recognition of his friendship and support, Bentinck was created the 1st Earl of Portland; his eldest son Henry succeeded him as Earl and was created 1st Duke of Portland in 1716. Bentinck’s grandson married Lady Margaret Cavendish Holles Harley, the greatest heiress of her day, in 1734, herself a collector of natural curiosities and an eminent scientist. Their son, William Bentinck, the 3rd Duke, was twice Prime Minister in 1783 and 1807-09. In the late 19th century the 5th Duke is best known for his magnificent underground buildings in Nottinghamshire.  

Providing evocative illustrations of an age of confidence and prosperity, the 13 exquisite jewels to be offered on Wednesday 1 December are dazzling highlights amidst the multiple treasures offered. Mostly from the jewel casket of Winifred Duchess of Portland (1863-1954), one of the great beauties of her time and a prominent society figure, they are led by a sumptuous antique diamond and natural pearl brooch, with three drops, circa 1870 (estimate: £500,000-700,000) and an antique diamond festoon necklace, circa 1870 (estimate: £400,000-600,000). The brooch was evidently one of Duchess Winifred's favourites – as her full length portrait by John Singer Sargent shows the pearls prominently displayed on her 17th century style costume; they are also seen in photographs of the Duchess in coronation robes and at the 1897 Devonshire House costume ball, a celebration of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897. Natural pearls are highly sought after gems. The pearls in this brooch are comparable to the historic La Pélégrina or the Mancini Pearls and are some of the largest and most desirable drops to appear at auction in recent years.

The Duchess married the 6th Duke of Portland in 1889. Dating to 1890, the Portland sapphire, diamond and pearl tiara (estimate: £250,000-300,000) and its matching stomacher brooch (estimate: £60,000-80,000) were made by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard. Most of the collection was commissioned from Garrard, the Crown Jewelers since 1843. The 1887 family inventory notes that several of the family jewels were dismantled to construct the tiara and it seems likely that other examples may have been remodelled from earlier Portland jewels, such as a fine ruby, mounted in an Edwardian platinum and diamond ring, the cut and flat shape of which point to it possibly dating from the 17th century (estimate: £400,000-600,000).

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.