The private collection of the contents of the family Wiltshire home of world-renowned interior and garden designer Anouska Hempel produced some strong results in a recent sale by auction house Dreweatts.
The sale titled: Anouska Hempel: Designer At Large, achieved a total of £653,000 which was over four times is pre-sale estimate of £150,000.
The collection was housed in Hempel’s former home, Shaw House in Wiltshire, a beautiful Grade II-listed building which, while being a family home, showcased Hempel’s unique theatrical flair for combining contemporary style with historical nuances, clever design and the epitome of luxury in its interiors.
Ms Hempel made her mark in design when she opened London’s first 5 star boutique hotel Blakes, in South Kensington in 1978, followed by The Hempel in London’s Bayswater. She was presented with the prestigious Andrew Martin Lifetime Achievement Award by HRH Princess Michael of Kent in 2022 for ‘her elusive, impossible to define but instantly recognisable design.’
Throughout the house she showcased her familiar and unique design techniques that brought her world-wide acclaim. These included architectural effects such as a play on perspective, dramatic colours emulating various periods and styles, as well as textural fabrics and effective groupings of furniture, set within clever lighting designs that captured the rich colour palette she used to infuse comfort and style into the house.
The sale included furniture, paintings and other works pertaining to the Hempel design ethos, spanning contemporary to antiquity. One particular work that caused huge excitement was Portrait of a Lady with a Riding Crop by the British artist Harrington Mann (1864-1937), which achieved a world record for the artist. The highly sought-after work hung in the ante room at Shaw House and was thought to feature one of the artist’s daughters, Cathleen Mann. The work instigated a bidding frenzy and finally sold to a UK buyer for £85,200, far above its pre-sale estimate of £5,000-£8,000.
Among other works in high demand was a carved marble portrait head of Polideuce, thought to be Roman, (circa 170-177), which sold for £43,950 against an estimate of £3,000-£5,000.
Showing the diversity of this stylish collection was a 20th century Jacquard chevron coated canvas travelling trunk, with leather and brass trim, which sold for £12,600 against an estimate of £3,000-£5,000.
Among the furniture was a 20th-century Anglo-Indian ebonised four poster bed which sold for £11,340 against an estimate of £3,000-£5,000.
Two decorative Indian hardwood, mother of pearl and bone inlaid chest of drawers featuring marble tops were by Anouska Hempel herself and sold for £8,820 against an estimate of £1,000-£1,500.
There was a lot of interest in an elegant mid 19th century Anglo-Indian ebony sofa, which eventually sold for £6,048 against an estimate of £1,500-£2,500.
The sale also included a group of 22 botanical prints after the famous German apothecary and botanist Basilius Besler (1561-1629), from the book titled: Hortus Eystettensis. The book was compiled by Besler at the request of the Bishop-Prince Johann Konrad von Gemmingen (1561−1612), who in 1611 asked him to curate his episcopal garden at Eichstätt (at his palace in Bavaria), as it was filled with plants from around the world. With his extensive knowledge, Besler oversaw the services of engravers, artists, colourists and printers to create the book, which was finished in 1612, just after the Bishop’s death. The group sold for £10,080 against an estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
A pair of sleek ebonised and bevelled glass three-fold screens by Anouska Hempel sold for £13,860 against an estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
A glass part table service by William Yeoward sold for £5,292 against an estimate of £1,500-£2,500.
Commenting on the sale, Joe Robinson, Dreweatts Head of House Sales & Collections, said: “Anouska Hempel, a doyen of English interior design, has an iconic aesthetic characterized by bold pattern, fascinating objects and an innate sensibility for atmosphere. It is unsurprising that her sale captured the imagination of a truly global audience comprising her loyal following and bidders who wanted to recreate something of her vision and drama within their own homes.”