WORKS OF ART FROM THE COLLECTION OF GREGORY DE LIGNE GREGORY (D. 1854) AT HARLAXTON MANOR
(Lots 7 - 11)
The following five lots formed part of what was rightly considered one of England's most spectacular collections of European painting, sculpture, furniture and objects of virtue. Accumulated throughout the first half of the 19th century by Gregory de Ligne Gregory (d. 1854), a cosmopolitan and wealthy Lincolnshire landowner, the extensive collection was housed in the purpose-built 'Jacobethan' or 'Old English' style mansion, Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire. Following Gregory's death in 1854 his collection and estates were cause of some legal disputes and, when finally settled, part of the art collection was sold in a spectacular sale at Christie's in 1878. The five lots offered here were not part of that sale but remained in the family and it is probably the first time since the 1878 sale that a group of works of art from the collection of Gregory de Ligne Gregory at Harlaxton comes to auction.
It had been Gregory's lifetime ambition to construct a splendid 'palace' to rival nearby Belvoir Castle. Designed by the fashionable architect, Anthony Salvin (d. 1881), and subsequently William Burn (d. 1870) and with significant intervention from the owner, building work was started at Harlaxton in 1831 but the property was not fully completed until 1858, having already cost the impressive sum of £100,000 by 1835. Harlaxton demonstrates Gregory's extravagant and eclectic taste with a plethora of chimneys, gables, pinnacles and turrets, and a multitude of rooms of remarkable dimensions in the 'Jacobethan', 'tous les Louis', and south German Baroque styles, a series of decorative schemes that are reflected in the diversity of the lots offered here.
Burke's 1853 edition of A Visitation of The Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain, states: 'Mr. Gregory has been unwearied in collecting the most beautiful and rare objects in virtu and taste in France and Italy; and about twenty-three years ago he commenced the palace of Harlaxton, as a fitting receptacle for his varied acquisitions the main object of his life has been to create a splendid monument to his taste which should mark to posterity at once its refinement and its magnificence'. A letter dated to 1864 (ten years after Gregory's death) from W.G. Rogers to Ralph Sneyd provides another tantalising glimpse of what the collection comprised: '..marbles, jaspers, Cabinets, porcelain of fabulous value, Buhl with Gouthier mountings, rare sculptures, delicate carvings, costly lac and Italian furniture, tapestries, all in glorious and unreadable confusion..' (Keele University Library, Sneyd Ms. S 2765).
Gregory was particularly inspired by the fashionable French revival taste with entire rooms at Harlaxton, including the breakfast-room, small drawing-room and private sitting-room, 'fitted up as complete specimens' of the time of Louis XIV. Gregory had acquired most of the French furniture and works of art in Paris, possibly including the superb commode by Nicolas Sageot (lot 8) and that attributed to Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt (lot 9), as well as the spectacular pair of ormolu-mounted Chinese porcelain ewers (lot 11). A further indication of the breadth of the collection is provided by the title of the sale held at Christie's 17 June 1878, which was described as
'CONSISTING OF Pictures, Sculpture, Tapestry, Silver-plate, Old French Decorative Furniture of the time of Louis XIII, XIV, XV and XVI, Rare Marbles, Fine Or-Molu Work, Rock-Crystal Chandelier, and other Decorative Objects, being a portion of the Collection formed by the late GREGORY GREGORY, ESQ., For the Adornment of his Seat, Harlaxton Manor House, Lincolnshire...'.
As Gregory was unmarried and without issue when he died in 1854, and contrary to his wish that Harlaxton would go to his friend and neighbour, Sir Glynne Welby of Denton, the major part of the estate was entailed to an elderly cousin, George Gregory (d. 1860) although the Welby's inherited much of the contents of Harlaxton. Upon George Gregory's demise the estate was bequeathed to John Sherwin, later John Sherwin-Gregory (d. 1892), a distant relative. The items offered here were first recorded in an 1864-66 'Inventory of articles (heirlooms, including library and works of art) at Harlaxton New Manor House' (National Archives, Ms. J 90/1217), and at least two of them were subsequently also listed in the 1936 'valuation of contents at Denton Manor believed to have been at Harlaxton Manor' (private collection).
WORKS OF ART FROM THE COLLECTION OF GREGORY DE GREGORY (D. 1854) AT HARLAXTON MANOR (LOTS 7 - 11)
AUGSBURG, CIRCA 1556-1560
A SOUTH GERMAN SYCAMORE, WALNUT, OLIVE, YEW-WOOD AND PEN-ENGRAVED FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY TABLE TOP
AUGSBURG, CIRCA 1556-1560
The rectangular top with eight pictorial cartouches depicting 'The Victories of Emperor Charles V', with the four outer larger panels depicting: the enthroned Charles V amidst his vanquished adversaries; Sulieman the Magnificent forced to raise the siege of Vienna; Charles V on horseback inspecting his troops near Ingolstadt in 1546; the surrender of John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, after the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547; the four smaller panels depicting the submission of the German cities in 1547 with Charles V confronted by a group of German dignitaries offering keys; Pope Clement VII besieged in the Castel Sant' Angelo, Rome; the submission of Philip, Landgrave of Hesse in 1547 with the Landgrave kneeling before Charles V; the death of Charles, Duke of Bourbon, and the capture of Rome, the four angles with circular medallions depicting a horse carrying a sphere and further medallions with astronomical instruments, the reserves decorated with scrolling strapwork and foliage interspersed with putti and grotesque masks, within a border of architectural design, the edge and frieze with bead-and-reel pattern, the reverse panelled with ash and stained sycamore, the top conceived in two halves, now with walnut stand circa 1820-30, carved with rockwork and foliage, on splayed feet
74 cm. high; 129 cm. wide; 124 cm. deep
Acquired by Gregory de Ligne Gregory (d. 1854) for Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, by descent to Sir Glynne Earle Welby-Gregory of Denton (1806-1875) and listed in the 1864-66 inventory of Harlaxton Manor.
By descent in the family.