Pelham: The Public and The Private sale at Sotheby's

Last week Sotheby’s held a spectacular sale, auctioning what they describe as one of the finest groups of antiques to be sold by them in recent years. The lots for sale were all from the collection of Alan Rubin of Pelham Galleries. The Pelham Galleries in London and Paris are known for their exceptional quality of English and Continual furniture and works of art, their galleries have also helped to form some of the best known private and museum collections. Following the decision to start a new chapter of dealership, focussing on antique instruments, Alan Rubin is auctioned a range of items from the Pelham Galleries and personal collections in this sale.

We’ve chosen some of the items that stood out to us the most, take a look at our top picks …

This George III breakfront bookcase (c. 1780) instantly caught our eye for its grand stature. It has been made in satinwood, harewood and tulipwood which gives a beautiful finish and perfect tonal balance. We love the classical details of the bookcase which features a cornice with inlaid pilasters. The inlaid oval medallions on the lower section perfectly balance with the astragal enclosing glazed doors. It is thought that this originally belonged to Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston for Broadlands House as it was listed in the Broadlands House inventory from 1786.

Estimate: £40,000-60,000

This lacquered and parcel-gilt cabinet (c.1750) was a slightly more unusual piece for us to chose, we were drawn to its impeccable detail and vibrant colouring. The doors doors are decorated with in the manner of Jean-Baptiste Pater with scenes galantes. ‘Scenes galantes’ or ‘fetes galantes’ were typical of the Rococo era and were initially developed by Watteau, they depicted aristocratic figures in lush landscapes enjoying celebrations. Pater was a student of Watteau and was strongly influenced by this style, borrowing both his themes and Rococo pastel palette. As well as these painted scenes, the interior of the cabinet features architectural coastal scenes within red and gold borders. An item of furniture like this could instantly enliven a sitting room or bedroom. While it would suit a classic interior, it could also add character and charm to a contemporary interior with muted tones. We enjoy mixing contemporary interiors with antique items and a piece like this would certainly become a talking point.

Estimate: £12,000-18,000

Lot Sold: £28,750

Continuing our colourful selection we also were drawn to this pair of Italian gilt wood and polychrome mirrors (c.1770). The mirrors each feature a beautiful central cartouche painted with scenes of putti. The decoration around each mirror plate features finely carved, polychrome floral garlands, scrolls and acanthus. These mirror originated from the Palazzo Butera in Palermo and are wonderful examples of High Rococo design. Their rectilinear shape and moulded cornices were designed to merge with the architecture of their surroundings and were often found in large salons in Palazzi and estates around Sicily. Placed in a classic house or apartment these mirrors could enliven and open up the space while merging with existing architectural features.

Estimate: £30,000-50,000

Lot Sold: £35,000

We were also struck by these interesting George III mahogany hall chairs (c.1760). They feature magnificent shell shaped backs and seat above cabriole legs. Their dark mahogany colouring and shell shaped design give them a real richness and these would suit a classic interior. Their backs are painted with the crest of the Elwes Baronets - John Elwes reputedly being the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ character of scrooge!

Estimate: £10,000-15,000

Lot Sold: £11,250

Cornwell Manor

Last weekend we stayed in Cornwell Manor in Oxfordshire. The Manor house dates from the 16th or 17th Century and has a rich history as well as beautifully designed interiors. The Manor is surrounded by a stunning Hamlet and 2,000 acres of land, making it perfect for a weekend getaway if you fancy escaping the bustle of city life.

The Jacobean manor house was originally owned by Sit Thomas Penystone, 1st Baronet and his family and built using proceeds from his once prominent Cotswold would trade. The family continued to own the house until the 1930s when it was bought by American heiress Mrs Anthony Gillson who brought about substantial alterations. She enlisted the services of Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis, known for his Italianate village of Portmeirion.

The manor house is beautifully decorated inside in a true English country style. The main entrance hall has a lovely stone floor and welcoming 18th century fireplace. The drawing features an impressive Adam style chimneypiece with Rococo plasterwork which adds delightful character.

We stayed in the ‘blue bedroom’ which is dominated by a wonderful Regency carved bed and has a pretty pastel blue and cream colour scheme, seen below.

Williams-Ellis also created most of the formal gardens which are stunning in their designs. They are based on formal Italian gardens incredible Italian details including pools, cascades and classical bridges. A truly specular water idyll in the Cotswolds!

We were also delighted to see Cornwell Manor featured last week in Country Life Magazine and recently in House and Garden Magazine. You can visit Cornwell Manor's website to read more about this beautiful estate.