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Christie’s to sell Sainsbury collection in this month

09 March 2008Written by ATG Reporter

A highlight of Christie’s summer sale season in London will be their 350-lot sale of the collection of the late Hon Simon Sainsbury, scion of the famous retailing family.

The June 18 auction is expected to make around £15m, with proceeds benefiting The Monument Trust which Simon Sainsbury set up in 1965.

The self-effacing businessman who, along with his brothers Tim and John, built the family grocery firm into a multi-billion pound business, used his personal fortune to become one of the country's most generous philanthropists.

Although people tend to remember the high-profile gesture of funding with his brothers the National Gallery's Sainsbury wing, he also made donations to the British Museum, the Tate, the V&A and various charitable causes.

This continued after his death in 2006, with his estate making major bequests of paintings to the Tate and the National Gallery.

But he also carefully nurtured and refined a private collection of classic Georgian furniture, pottery and English and French paintings, which he used to furnish Woolbeding House, the Georgian home he leased from the National Trust. His aim was to create "an English Arcadia" and it is this material that will be the subject of the auction for his Monument charity.

Simon Sainsbury's particular tastes were for classic restrained Georgian furniture by celebrated cabinetmakers and 17th and 18th century English delftware.

According to Christie's deputy chairman Charles Cator, he preferred understated, top quality pieces, finely patinated wood accompanied by a history and provenance like the Mayhew and Ince commode shown here, which he purchased at Christie's.

Buying either directly or through the specialist trade, he purchased from many of the blue-chip, single-owner auctions held over the past quarter century, such as the Moller and Messer sales of furniture and the Lipski and Kassebaum collections of delftware.

His selection of British paintings similarly features some of the best known names from the last 400 years, from Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs and Joseph Wright of Derby to Stanley Spencer.

The French paintings from Simon Sainsbury's collection will be offered the following week in the auctioneers' mixed-owner Impressionist and Modern sale, but all the works will be on view together in specially created room setting displays prior to both auctions.

By Anne Crane

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