Objects from an Oxfordshire country house that played host to a who’s who list of 20th-century artists and aesthetes are to be the key focus of Christie’s Interiors Sale next month in London.
Faringdon House was the home of composer, painter, diplomat and writer Lord Berners and his partner Robert ‘Mad Boy’ Heber-Percy who created a cultural oasis for visitors.
The novelist and journalist Nancy Mitford, a Faringdon regular, wrote of Berners in her novel The Pursuit of Love, “one of the greatest of his (Lord Berners) achievements was the atmosphere he created around himself at Faringdon, a house where the second best was never tolerated, either in comfort, conversation or in manners.”
As such, the visitors books for the house are filled with the names of the century’s great, good and not so good, including Salvador Dali, Cecil Beaton, Margot Fonteyn, Gertrude Stein and Igor Stravinsky.
Humour was also clearly part of life at Faringdon, where ‘Mad Boy’ Heber-Percy regularly rose his horse bareback and naked around the estate. Similarly, in keeping with tradition, Faringdon’s collection of doves are still dyed all colours of the rainbow to this day.
A George II giltwood mirror (circa 1740-50) – estimate £30,000 to £50,000.
A cream-painted and glass mounted four-poster bed from the second quarter of the 20th century – estimate £3,000 to £5,000.
Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali, published in New York by Julian Levy Gallery, 1937, with Dail’s inscription to Lord Berners and drawing – estimate £1,000 to £1,500.
Alongside items from Faringdon, the sale also includes property from the collection of the late Lord and Lady Jacobs, and property from a David Hicks interior. Estimates from this part of the sale start at £300.
The sale takes place on April 12.