Please note: In February 2014 the United States Government announced the intention to ban the import of any ivory into the USA; within this auction any lots that we feel may be affected will have an addendum against them
Sale Venue (all lots)
101 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1SR
Please note start times:
10.00 - The Collection of an Architect: The Old Rectory, Kent, Lots 1 to 153.
14.00 - Fine English Furniture, Sculpture & Works of Art, Lots 200 to 351.
Please note storage arrangements:
All sold lots will only be held at New Bond Street until 5pm the day of the sale. Lots not collected by then will be transferred to the warehouse at Park Royal. These lots will be available for collection from 2pm on Friday 14th March, for more information please see attached document.
Storage procedures apply, please see sale information in front of catalog or call department for further details as storage fees will apply after a short period of time.
The Collection of Giles Newby Vincent
Tucked away in an unspoilt corner of the Garden of England, and protected by ancient willow-fringed water meadows, lies the small historic village of Wickhambreaux. The Little Stour gurgles and froths beside the towering white weather-boarded gables and slatted wheel of Wickham Mill, standing sentinel at the entrance to the village. A white painted Kentish bridge spans the rush-fringed stream which then meanders to the coast, eventually joining The Great Stour near Sandwich, some 10 miles distant. To one side are the venerable checkered stone and flint elevations of the manor house of Joan of Kent, who married The Black Prince and was the mother of Richard II. Beyond the bridge and encircling the green, partly hidden behind a group of stately lime trees, yet more buildings of great character justify Wickhambreaux's claim to be one of Kent's prettiest villages: the fourteenth-century flint tower and medieval timber porch of St Andrew's church; the Regency double-height bow windows of Old Willow Farm; the pale brick shuttered Georgian façade of Wickham Court; the half-timbered diminutive Rose Inn - and, on a rise of ground, the unmistakably Baroque elevations of The Old Rectory.
The first impression one has is that the village has perhaps undergone some painstaking preparation for the scenes of a period drama. As Pevsner describes it in The Buildings of England: 'One can imagine a novel of Jane Austen's being acted out at Wickhambreaux...'. When it dawns upon one that this is no stage set, one can only wonder why the idyllic virtues of Wickhambreaux are not more regularly extolled in the property pages of the national press. That The Old Rectory belongs to Giles Newby Vincent, an architect and interior designer also known for decorating historic interiors for film and television, is therefore little surprise. Considered to be one of the finest domestic examples of Queen Anne architecture in Kent, The Old Rectory was built in 1713 for The Reverend Alexander Young, rector of Wickhambreaux from 1712 to 1755. Although the architect is unknown, the building is remarkably fashionable for its date. The brick aprons below the sash windows, and the brick aedicule with its broken pediment framing the front dormer window suggest a designer at the vanguard of fashion. Further evidence of the rector's links to leading architects of the age, is provided by his church funerary monument designed by no less a figure than Robert Taylor.
It is small wonder that Giles's finely tuned eye was attracted by the excellent proportions and elegant paneled rooms of The Old Rectory, as his pre-disposition towards architecture, fine antiques and art was pre-ordained by his background and ancestry. His paternal grandfather, also an architect and collector, lived at the Braishfield Manor Estate in Hampshire; his maternal great grandfather acquired The Whittern estate in Herefordshire in 1860, where he built a distinguished country house, which was replaced by Giles's grandfather - also an amateur architect - in the mid twentieth century. Giles's Buckinghamshire childhood home was also a beautiful building - a fine Regency house with much-admired gardens designed by Percy Cane. It was later sold to the Prince de Rohan. Giles's flair for interior decoration in particular owes a debt to his eccentric aunt, Elizabeth Newby Vincent, a Devizes antique dealer who was a close friend and formative influence on leading decorators such as Robert Kime and the late Geoffrey Bennison. Her philosophy that "antiques should look inherited rather than bought" is one that Giles has adhered to, and this is borne out by the fine patina of many pieces in the collection.
Once qualified in his chosen profession, Giles worked for the distinguished conservation architect Sir Donald Insall, where he became job architect for the restoration of Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire for The National Trust. This promising start to his career was followed by a stint with David Mlinaric under whose auspices he worked on Spencer House and Waddeston Manor. By 1990, he had gained both the confidence and experience to set up his own Belgravia-based company Giles Vincent Design. Since then, Giles has worked in over a dozen countries including England, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Barbados, and his projects have been published internationally. He is known both for his expertise with period decoration as well as for his relaxed contemporary style, and has worked for many well-known figures, including clients as contrasting as Sir Elton John and Lord Heseltine. Hunting for furniture, textiles and paintings with a sense of atmosphere and charm is second-nature to Giles, who is in constant need of such pieces for his projects. His design studio has always been in central London, but over the years Giles has owned several substantial country houses, both in England and the South of France. It was to furnish these properties that Giles gradually assembled the collection of walnut furniture, early textiles, silver and Old Masters that is now offered for sale.
Elegant black-green iron railings and a flight of well-worn stone steps announce the entrance to The Old Rectory, ascending to the unusually high ground floor. Set within a carved Baroque doorcase, the tall front door opens directly into the paneled Dining Hall. The visitor is confronted by a harmonious arrangement of early 18th century furniture, Delftware and Old Master paintings whose subtle tones harmonize perfectly with the earthy pigment to the walls. The furniture here includes a George I walnut cabinet (lot 4) which subliminally echoes the perfect proportions of the house's facade. Adjacent is a Queen Anne kneehole desk (lot 9) of rare configuration. It is strikingly similar to one in the King's Bedroom at Traquair Castle, Scotland - famous for its associations with Mary Queen of Scots. A group of old-framed 18th century petit point needlework panels (including lot 2) introduce color and texture as a counterpoint to muted hues elsewhere. Indeed the prevalence of exquisite needlework on furniture and walls in the principal rooms is a predominant and unifying element of the collection. However, lest one should imagine that the interiors are altogether too serious, a charming 1920s American embroidered cat picture reflects Giles's innate sense of fun. (lot 128) Above the stone chimney-piece the unidentified but hauntingly beautiful 'Lady with the Auburn Hair', circle of Frans Pourbus II, (lot 10) blithely surveys the room, resplendent in her 1620s bejeweled court finery. On the oak table below her, a fine set of four George II silver candlesticks by John Hugh Le Sage (lot 5) gleam in the firelight. Beyond in the Study, handsomely framed between the deep sash windows, stands an important George II walnut bureau (lot 26). Once part of the iconic Percival Griffiths collection, it is one of a handful of examples with a separate lion-mask carved stand. Opposite, on the mantelpiece, is the first of many small objects that bring a sense of self-effacing whimsy to Giles's collection - an Edwardian clockwork tin toy of a swineherd chasing a pig (lot 32). Above it is one of several items at The Old Rectory which reflect its Kentish setting: a 1660's Anglo-Dutch painting of a hunting group arriving at Combewell Priory - a local Carolean brick house of striking formality that has long since disappeared (lot 36) . Back in the Dining Hall, a broad paneled arch with fluted pilasters opens into the double-height Staircase Hall. The Old Rectory's principal staircase has carved tread-ends and is handsomely wainscoted, reminding one of Salisbury's Montpesson House. High above, a pair of Baroque giltwood chandeliers (lot 148) bring a sense of light and shadow to walls densely hung with Old Masters. Opposite the arch, beyond an eight-panelled Baroque door retaining its original brass swing handle, is Giles's wonderfully relaxed Drawing Room. A log fire settles quietly in the grate, scenting the rooms as it does so. A large comfortable terrier-friendly linen sofa is bedecked with an effortless assortment of Georgian needlework cushions (lots 41 & 42) and above it hangs Michael Clark's arcadian 1995 painting 'The Pink Rug', reflecting Giles's parallel interest in Modern British art. (lot 125) Beneath the long sash windows is one of Giles's favorite pieces: an unusually broad late 19th century - for want of a better description - 'conversation chair' with Caucasian rug covers. After dinner parties, this is invariably shared by two guests, both intent upon gossip. Opposite the fireplace is something altogether less frivolous: a particularly well-proportioned Queen Anne double domed walnut bureau bookcase (lot 45) with glorious patina, and of similar date to the house. Flanking the bureau is a pair of 1730s walnut side chairs from the Gomme collection (lot 59), probably from Giles Grendey's Clerkenwell workshop. In common with many much-loved pieces at The Old Rectory, they are covered in wonderfully-preserved contemporary needlework. In this instance, the chairs have petit point covers depicting flowers and foliage, that retain their original bright colors: redolent of furniture associated with such seminal collectors of English Furniture as the aforementioned Percival Griffiths, and more recently John Parry and John Gerstenfeld. The adjoining Library, formerly used as an office, is home to the most important piece of seat furniture in the collection (lot 39), a fine George I walnut open armchair retaining its original finely-worked 1720s needlework. The textile theme continues with an atmospheric Queen Anne floral crewelwork panel on the opposite wall (lot 65). The Library leads back to the Staircase Hall adjacent, where the half landing houses a George I burr walnut tea table with shell carved knees (lot 74). The walls above are enlivened by an unusual set of four early 17th century French School portraits (lot 73) in their original ebonised frames. They all depict the same young woman, but each time she sports a different costume: were the portraits then despatched to would-be suitors for approval? The paneled and wainscoted first floor Landing opens onto three generous bedrooms either overlooking the village green or the secluded walled gardens to the rear. Memorable pieces in the Principal Bedroom include a fine George I walnut chair-back settee (lot 99) with an unusual serpentine front rail, eagle terminal arms and bold shell devices to the tops of the splats - perhaps suggesting Dutch influence. Flanking the chimneypiece and of the same period as the settee is a rare pair of oval walnut and needlework stools (lot 101), again with fine contemporary needlework drop-in seats. To one side is a superb George I, burr walnut and Cocus wood clothes press (lot 91) that Giles found in Maine, USA and willingly repatriated. In the Green Bedroom opposite hangs a charming pair of late eighteenth century oil-on-board painted flower panels (lot 108) which were a lucky find in a village hall sale in Leicestershire. Between the windows is an unusual 'caddy top' George II walnut bachelor's chest (lot 111), and above it, reflecting the rural views to either side, is Frank Creber's soulful 1988 'Woodgreen' painting, (lot 126). In the adjacent Blue Bedroom, the focal point is another fine early 18th century burr walnut clothes press (lot 124) of wonderful color. Giles's fondness for historic textiles remains evident in the diminutive but rare 'hair capriccio' picture (lot 96), and the fresh original colors of the drop in seat to a George II walnut side chair (lot 107). The handsome principal staircase leads only from ground to first floor, and back in 1713 only the fortunate Alexander Young and his family could use it. Concealed behind paneling, the somewhat humbler servants' staircase - still in a wonderful state of preservation, with much of its original paintwork intact - enabled the Rector's staff of seven to move unseen between all four floors. On the second floor there are a further five attic bedrooms, and these contain a group of oak pieces including and an unusual table cabinet of architectural form which has provenance from Annapolis, Maryland. (lot 134) Down in the basement, the early eighteenth floor layout still survives, remarkably intact: the scullery with its well and lift-up cover; the pantry with its slate counters; the cellar with its brick vaults. In the Morning Room (formerly the Servants' Hall) a rare C17th longcase pendulum gently defines time. William Kenyon's elegant ebonised 1690's clock (lot 146) with its superb tulip-engraved dial is in all probability the earliest surviving clock from the great northern metropolis of Liverpool: perhaps it deserves to return there. Two other fine pieces keep it company. The first is a rare George II glazed two-door bookcase of great charm (lot 147); the second is a superb George I walnut bachelor chest (lot 149). This is a considerable rarity, being one of only two recorded examples to have side handles and an unusual configuration of two long and four short drawers. Adjacent, in the Kitchen and Butler's Pantry, the usual paraphernalia of life below stairs is much in evidence: brightly polished table silver, including an extensive 'Millennium' canteen, (lot 139); piles of neatly ironed linen; teapots and casseroles; jugs and trugs; and a set of horizontally ribbed white Staffordshire kitchen storage jars (lot 142). Several mossy old stone steps - much frequented by Giles's Jack Russell terriers - lead from the Drawing Room to the Walled Garden. This historic sanctuary, with its ancient tulip tree and venerable yew hedges, leads to an orchard garden flanked by a stand of Kentish Cobs, with apple, plum, pear and medlar trees beyond. A few pieces from this secluded Kentish retreat are also offered in this sale. These include two pairs of fluted campana-shaped cast iron urns (lot 152); a pair of hardwood and cast iron sphinx decorated garden benches, (lot 150); and an unusual Victorian circular wood and iron garden table, (lot 151)
Given the increasing scarcity of early walnut furniture in original condition, fine contemporary textiles, interesting historic paintings, and unusual decorative ornaments, the amassing of this collection might well represent a lifetime's devotion for many connoisseurs. It is therefore a testament to Giles Newby Vincent's excellent eye and remarkable energy that he has managed to assemble such a memorably rich and varied group, whilst simultaneously designing and creating his many client projects. Given the rarity of so many items, it is perhaps surprising that Giles can bring himself to part with so many irreplaceable possessions of great character and charm, but new horizons beckon. 'It has been quite a labor of love to put the collection together. At times, the search has been rather a learning curve, but I have also been incredibly lucky. However, it's now time for a new chapter...'
Giles remains committed to his design work and remains in too much demand client-wise ever to leave London: 'Well, not for twenty years anyway....' Nonetheless, the 'new chapter' includes restoring a dilapidated old seaside villa with five acres of overgrown garden that Giles found recently in the South of France. Many might balk at the prospect, given the simultaneous demands of running an increasingly well-known design business, but Giles loves a challenge. In the meantime, The Old Rectory will be marketed in April and its collection is now offered for sale: a rare opportunity for like-minded enthusiasts and collectors alike to acquire objects ranging from charming curiosities such as the carved wooden lamb and dove (lot 103) to important paintings and furniture that will doubtless now grace other distinguished collections in turn.