'Finest collection of needlework in Britain' could bring more than $500,000

A remarkable collection of early English needlework, which was owned by the former Chairman of Debenhams and Harvey Nichols, Sir Frederick Richmond (1873-1953), is to be sold at Bonhams, in London, as part of its Fine English Furniture Sale on March 2 2011. The collection comprises 63 pieces with estimates totalling £210,000 - 315,000 (up to $506,000). 

Sir Frederick, who, in his role as Chairman, established Debenhams as the largest textile distribution empire worldwide, started collecting needlework in 1907. The Edwardian and inter-war period was a great time for the dispersal of family collections, and, from these and fellow collectors, he accumulated an astounding selection of items.

His purchases were displayed in his country home, Westoning Manor in Bedfordshire, which he bought in 1936, and his house in 'Millionaire's Row', 10 Kensington Park Gardens, London.

A needlework mirror with folding shutters
An extraordinary needlework mirror with folding shutters
(Click to enlarge)

On his death in 1953, the collection, which was described in a tribute in The Times as 'the finest in the country', was split between his two children in Suffolk and Buckinghamshire.

Highlights include a needlework mirror, circa 1660, with folding shutters designed to celebrate the founding of the Province of Carolina in 1663 (estimated at £30,000 - 40,000) and a needlework mirror depicting the Continents (listed at £18,000 - 25,000).

There is also a 17th century fine needlework panel featuring Charles II as Mars and Queen Catherine of Braganza as Venus (estimate £15,000 - 20,000); a 17th century needlework picture of King David and Bathsheba (estimate £3,000 - 5,000); and a mid 17th century beadwork basket (estimate £7,000 - 10,000).



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