She was a lifelong, obsessive collector of beautiful things – both to use for her flower designs and to decorate her home.
Spry was also the lover of the now very famous painter Hannah Gluckstein, better known as Gluck.
Spry bought Winkfield Place in 1946, to open a school for young women, to teach them how to be homemakers, gardeners and designers of all sorts. And Winkfield became the epitome of a beautiful home, filled with things she had bought over the years so that the girls would be exposed to beauty and quality in all things.
After she died, in 1960, the contents were gradually dispersed. Firstly by her son, Anthony Marr, who sold her jewellery sometime in the early 1960s and also two Gluck paintings she had owned, Spiritual and Flora’s Cloak.
Both of these we have found and also we have a charm bracelet she owned. All owners are happy to lend to the show, thankfully.
Then the whole place was sold to new owners, with the contents intact, sometime in the 1970s.
They sold most of these contents (and the house) via Bonhams on September 17, 1990. Things they didn’t sell at this auction moved to new premises and were then sold when the business completely closed in 2007. These lots were sold as part of a Bonhams Interiors sale at Knightsbridge on March 3, 2009.
We would love to find some of these more precious things. In particular the following, which is a wish list but almost anything would be interesting to find from either sale.
Bonhams in 1990
Items sold by Bonhams on September 17, 1990, at Winkfield Place (items that appear in many pictures of the interior of the house with Spry in them).
• Lot 557: pair of German 18th century painted figural candlesticks, of kneeling angels, clad in loose robes, holding a cornucopia, 19in (48cm).
• Lot 565: pair of gilt bronze empire style comports, 12½in (31.5cm) tall, foliate and acanthus banded bowl, above a waisted concave stem with paw feet, on swan monopodia supports on a concave triform plinth with opposing anthemion appliqués centred by rosettes, third quarter 19th century.
• Lot 584: pair of decorative shell arrangements, supported by continental porcelain vases and housed beneath glass domes, 19th century.
• Lot 617: pair of decorative blue and clear glass mirrors, the rectangular bevelled plates cornered by cut sunburst motifs, with 28 subsidiary plates applied with coloureds glass rosettes, within a narrow gilt frame.
• Lot 622: decorative pair of mirror-glazed and wrought iron tables, the canted rectangular tops above a frieze entered by a scallop shell, on a blue glass ground, flanked by pendant arcades, on scroll-shaped supports, tied by a stretcher, entered by a finial, 2ft 7in (80cm) wide
• Lot 625: continental gilt wood side table, the rectangular brêche-violetie marble top above a deep shaped frieze, centred by a cartouche amid foliate scrolls and husk chains, on cabriole legs headed by rushes, with foliate scrolls and pendant husk chains, on hoof feet, 3ft 10in (1.18m) wide, second quarter 18th century.
• Lot 665: fine pair of Florentine giltwood mirrors, the cartouche-shaped bevelled plates within a lively border of profuse and intricate foliate scrolls, 19th century, 2ft 8in x 2ft 5in (82.5 x 73.5cm).
These vases featured in Spry’s books.
• Lot 589: Italian cased marble comport, the trefoil scallop-shaped bowl on a lotus carved column and circular plinth, 10in (25.5cm), mid 19th century.
• Lot 598: Regency gilt bronze centrepiece, the pierced oval basket raised upon the wing tips of two swans seated upon foliate socles, above an oval plinth banded in laurel leaves on foliate capped paw feet, 15in (37.5cm).
• Lot 599: William IV gilt bronze campagna-shaped vase with beaded and egg-dart rim above a frieze of Bacchanalian revellers including an inebriated Silenus, the gadrooned lower body with a pair of mask headed handles, with a fluted, spreading pedestal foot, 13½in (34cm).
Bonhams in 2009
Items sold at the Bonhams Interiors sale at Knightsbridge on March 3, 2009.
• Lot 331: late 19th/early 20th century white marble jardiniere in athe form of a tazza, 2ft 4in diameter x 13½in high (72 x 34cm).
• Lot 342: collection of six unusual jardinieres adapted from silver-plated cloches and designed by Spry, the largest 21in wide x 2ft 1in high (53 x 63cm).
• Lot 349: pair of carved and stained oak torcheres, 3ft 9in (1.15m) high.
• Lot 343A: white painted wire work three-tier plant stand.
Bonhams in 2013
And one final, errant item, sold at a later Bonhams sale, The Oak Interior, on July 25, 2013. It appears in all pictures in the Drawing Room of Winkfield, so would be very desirable to show in the exhibition.
• Lot 43: group of mid 18th century needlework motifs mounted on a later stain ground, 8ft 6in x 6ft 4in (2.6 x 1.93m).
One Gluck painting has been elusive all along: Chromatic. It is the first painting she made of a Spry arrangement and was the reason their romance began in the first place.
No-one seems to know where it is. Spry never owned it and Gluck tried to buy it back in the 1960s apparently.
Thank you to anyone who can help. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org