The 303-lot sale was titled An Aesthetic Odyssey, The Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan Collection, and was certainly an odyssey for buyers in the room, many of whom sat through the seven-hour long event in London on September 30.
Rose (an art teacher who died last year aged 93) and Gallichan (an advertising executive who died in 2001) had displayed their colourful collection throughout their Brighton town house. Nicknamed "Victoria and Albert" by some in the trade, the pair had amassed the best of what they could afford when it came to Victorian decorative arts.
The collection was begun in the 1950s and many of the items were bought when prices were low and the style was out of fashion.
Among the highlights of the sale was a group of three William de Morgan ruby lustre dishes (part of a group that had been in the bathroom in Brighton) which was knocked down at £12,000 against an estimate of £2000-4000.
A reformed Gothic oak, walnut and marquetry chest by Holland & Son c.1870 and attributed to Glaswegian designer Bruce Talbert sold at £16,000 (estimate: £2000-3000).
One of the top selling sculptures was Perseus with the head of Medusa by Frederick William Pomeroy which sold at £30,000 (estimate: £12,000-18,000).
Martinware also did very well throughout the sale but it was pictures that took the highest prices with the top lot being a 1911 Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) Bathing Group (Noonday Heat) which sold at £110,000 against an estimate £40,000-60,000.
The auction was 88% sold by lot and 95% by value with around 450 registrants for the sale with half of those online. Around 21% of buyers were from the trade with the rest private buyers.
Christie’s held a five-day preview prior to the sale with around 1000 people viewing the collection.
Christie’s director and specialist Adrian Hume-Sayer said: “In the Brighton townhouse every room was a different colour and each room was curated. We were able to evoke a feeling of their rooms in Brighton in our saleroom by recreating corners of their home.”
He added: “They were founder members of Decorative Arts Society and were recognised as trailblazers in the field. We were delighted with the strong interest from decorative art dealers and our clients responded very well to the sale.”
Hume-Sayer pointed to an article previewing the sale in World of Interiors as widening the type of buyers on the day.
As requested by Rose, proceeds of the auction will go to the couple's charity: Albert Dawson Educational Trust which promotes education on Victorian art (a pseudonym that the pair often bought under at auction).
The Christie’s sale was less than half the contents of their home and a second sale will be held by Lyon & Turnbull on November 30 at NoHo Studios, 46 Great Titchfield Street in London.
The couple had also made a number of bequests to museums including to the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. A previous sale had also dispersed some of their collection in 2004.