Vivien Leigh: art, books and an eye for the decorative
Leigh’s collection, which goes under the hammer on September 26, is the more classically curated of the two. It includes oil and watercolour paintings that Leigh bought from her contemporary artists such as John Piper and Harold Gilman, and the top lot in the sale is expected to be a Study of Roses by Winston Churchill (estimated at £70,000-100,000).
Other artworks include portraits of the actress by Augustus John, Roger Furse and Dietz Edzard. There are also items of furniture such as a Hepplewhite-style canopy bed and an 18th century gateleg table as well as candlesticks, mirrors and lighting.
However, a supply of typical celebrity memorabilia is also on offer. Items include Leigh’s personal copy of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, a ring inscribed to the actress by her husband Laurence Olivier and a number of photographs showing Leigh’s early life, images from the sets of her films and shots of various Hollywood legends.
Leigh came to international prominence as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind in 1939 and went on to win two Oscars, one for that performance and one for her role as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Her relationship with Olivier, which lasted from 1940-60, was the source of wide fascination. She died in 1947 from tuberculosis and her collection has been passed down through her family
“Behind the guise of the most glamorous and talked-about woman of her age we find a fine art collector, patron, even a bookworm,” says Sotheby’s Harry Dalmeny. “Fifty years on from her death, this sale opens the door into Vivien’s private world.”
Audrey Hepburn: fame, fashion and film
The sale of Hepburn’s personal collection at Christie’s is spread across a live auction (September 27) and an online sale (ending October 3). The lots are generally personal effects and includes a number of items from the wardrobe, an assortment of photographs and copies of film scripts from some of her most popular films – including Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Many of the items date from 1953, the year of her Hollywood debut in Roman Holiday, to 1968 when she went into semi-retirement. Among the highlights in the sale are an engraved gold lighter given to Hepburn by the art director of the 1964 film My Fair Lady, personal portraits of her by Bud Fraker and a blue satin cocktail dress designed for her by Hubert de Givency, the designer who had a lifelong collaborative relationship with her, designing costumes for many of her films.
Hepburn was born in Brussels and studied ballet before moving on to Broadway and Hollywood. She was the first actress to win an Academy Award, a Tony and a Golden Globe in the same year. After her career in film she worked with UNICEF. Like Leigh, she died before her 70th birthday and her children have consigned a selection of her personal items to the auction.