For over two hundred years, the Dukes of Devonshire called a splendid, William Kent-designed London mansion home. When Devonshire House, as it was known, was razed in 1925 the family removed much of the mansion’s contents, its pictures, furnishing, and many of its architectural elements, to the even more imposing, 300-room Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Since that time, much of this loot has sat in Chatsworth’s vast attics, along with relics from others of their houses. This October, in a three-day sale at Chatsworth,Â Sotheby’s will sell 20,000 of these items in 1400 lots expected to bring $3.8 million. The Duke needs the space, he explained.
Among the sale’s more unusual offerings is a huge bookcase, estimated to fetch as much as $120,000 that concealed a secret passage to a room off the nursery in which the future George IV conducted an illicit affair. The breadth of the sale is a window into the scale and opulence with which Britain’s uber-rich aristocracy has lived. It’s also a nod to the work of William Kent, who designed much of the ornamentation being offered. “The sale will provide a unique opportunity to acquire examples of the work of one of England’s greatest architects,” says Sotheby’s Harry Dalmeny. It is, he added, “an opportunity that is unlikely ever to be repeated.”
Read more in The Guardian.