Jasper Conran: The Collection at Christie’s
My favorite part of fall, besides the fashions, are all the auctions and art fairs. There are always some spectacular sales and this year is no exception. This September, Christie’s will offer Jasper Conran: The Collection Parts I and II which will be filled his country house collections including those from his majestic apartment in New Wardour Castle in Wiltshire, England that he sold last year. The lots have not been posted yet but Tatler has a look at a few of the 500 lots. “One of the most prized lots is likely to be a George I chintz-cotton and velvet tester bed, dating from 1725, which is expected to fetch £80,000”
“New Wardour Castle is widely recognised as one of England’s finest country houses. It was originally built for the Arundell family, but one and a half miles from Old Wardour Castle, the aristocratic family’s former home before it was besieged during the English Civil War and rendered uninhabitable. Now, Old Wardour Castle exists as a Grade I listed folly, a feature in the landscape of New Wardour Castle. Both castles have made their way into popular culture; New Wardour Castle as the dance school in Billy Elliot and Old Wardour Castle in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”
Landed Families has outlined much of the history of the building. “The new mansion was built for the 8th Lord Arundell of Wardour on a site agreed with Richard Woods by 1765, but although Woods made designs for the house, it was built to plans by James Paine between 1770 and 1776, after Woods had been dismissed in 1771. A number of sets of drawings for a new house survive, including some by a Somerset neighbour, Coplestone Warre Bampfylde, and others by Robert Baldwin, indicating that Lord Arundell may have consulted widely before choosing his architect.”
“Inside the house, the front entrance leads into a low entrance hall with attached Roman Doric columns and a handsome cast iron fireplace crowned by an urn. This oppressive space in turn opens in a dramatic contrast into the spectacular top-lit staircase hall which occupies the centre of the house. It is sixty feet high and circular, with a diameter of forty-seven feet, and is arguably one of the most memorable rooms in England.”
“On the first floor the largest room occupies the centre of the entrance front and has the Venetian window there and a coved ceiling, but little decoration. Altogether ornament is sparing at Wardour, apart from the staircase and chapel, although some of the decoration that did exist has been lost. The best room is the Music Room on the south side, with Ionic columns and pediment, and an excellent stucco ceiling incorporating a copy by Batoni of Guido Reni’s Aurora. (When it was commissioned in Rome, the artist was asked to add some drapery the figures to avoid the picture offending the sensibilities of the prudish 8th Baron). On the north side the middle room has columns in the principal doorway too, and there is a charming apsed boudoir by Soane on the west side with a coffered niche and a stucco ceiling. The house relied a great deal on its contents, especially its pictures, when it was first completed, and in 1801 John Britton warned prospective visitors (the house was open every afternoon to polite tourists) that “the embellishments of the mansion… appear to be associated with ideas of religion – monks curiously carved in ivory, crucifixes elegantly wrought, paintings of Saints and martyrs, both male and female, holy families, resurrections and ascensions…”; clearly he anticipated it would not be to everyone’s taste! A list of the notable paintings in the 1820s included works by Vernet, Dow, Caravaggio, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Tenier, Poussin, Murillo, Holbein and Batoni; but following sales in the late 19th and early 20th centuries most of these works are now in major galleries in Britain, America and Rome.”
“The house ceased to be occupied by the family during the Second World War and was sold in 1945. It was used in the 1950s as a Cheshire Home and from 1960-90 as the home of Cranborne Chase School, which built ancillary buildings in the grounds. When the school moved out it was bought by Nigel Tuersley, who employed John Pawson to undertake a major restoration and convert the house into ten apartments, with the main reception rooms and the grand staircase hall forming a single large unit.”
“Jasper Conran’s very apartment, the principal apartment in the building, a characteristically elegant, high ceilinged, tall-widowed abode (and all 23,000 sq ft of it) went on sale for £3.95 million last August. The six-bedroom property is currently furnished with a mix of modern and 18th-century classical English furniture; Conran told the Times last year: ‘It has an extraordinary atmosphere of calm about it,’ which is easy to believe.”
“Time gives an object soul and that I find very attractive. I’m very against plasticizing and new-ifying old objects.” – Jasper Conran
The Palladian mansion designed by the architect James Paine has additions by Giacomo Quarenghi, who had helped build St Petersburg in Russia. “It was the light that sold it to me,” Conran says. “It has high-ceilinged rooms bathed in sunshine and, for once, I didn’t have to do very much to it. I just painted the walls and moved in my furniture.” With his signature plain walls and 18th-century paintings and furniture, it exuded an air of classic tranquillity.
The Dining Room
The Dining Room
The Gallery or Great Dining Room.
The Gallery or Great Dining Room.
A guest bedroom.
The garden room.
The boot room.