Valerie Eliot's art collection to auction in November

Valerie Eliot's art collection is to auction in London on November 20.

Second wife of American modernist poet TS Eliot, throughout her life Valerie Eliot acquired outstanding portrait miniatures, British drawings and modern art.

John Constable's Helmingham Dell, Suffolk, 1800

Highlights of the forthcoming sale include John Constable's drawing of Helmingham Dell, Suffolk executed in 1800, which is estimated to be worth £500,000 ($744,693); one of only 13 extant self portraits by Stanley Spencer, valued at £300,000 ($446,737); and an important collection comprising more than 200 portrait miniatures, including rare examples from the 1500s.

Christie's deputy chairman Orlando Rock comments: "Valerie's devotion to her husband helped her form a particularly enlightened collection of British art which she knew he would have applauded and cherished.

"Compiled over 20 years, the collection encapsulates the history of British art from Hilliard to Freud via Gainsborough, Spencer, Moore and Bacon; and includes quintessentially English sea and landscapes by Constable, Turner, Atkinson Grimshaw and Lowry."

On hearing Eliot's 1927 poem The Journey of the Magi, which follows the slow and precarious progress of Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior, and their camels "galled sorefooted, refractory / Lying down in the melting snow", a high-school aged Valerie declared that she would work for him.

Subsequently, Valerie was employed as the poet's secretary at Faber & Faber.

The pair married in 1957. She dedicated her life to the preservation of her husband's art and was entrusted with the task of editing his correspondences following his death in 1965.

Rock insists: "Valerie Eliot's legacy as a collector and passionate supporter of the arts is continued by Old Possums Practical Trust, a charitable organisation she established to support literary, artistic, musical and theatrical projects and organisations. The proceeds from the sale of her collection will ensure the important work of the trust continues."

We currently have this autographed copy of Orlando in stock, authored by Eliot's friend and fellow modernist Virginia Woolf.

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