Thursday, November 05, 2015
A Tradition of Collecting: Property from Cornelia Guest, Formerly the Collection of Winston & C.Z. Guest, Templeton
There is a lot of buzz about Stair Galleries' upcoming auction, A Tradition of Collecting: Property from Cornelia Guest, Formerly the Collection of Winston & C.Z. Guest, Templeton, which will take place on November 14. Templeton, of course, was the Guest family's famed estate, located in Old Westbury, New York. Having recently sold the estate, Cornelia is moving to Columbia County, New York, where she plans to build an animal rescue. As many of us have experienced, a move often prompts a shedding of one's possessions, and that seems to be the case with Cornelia, who has consigned furniture, art, garden ornaments, and other decorative pieces to next week's sale at Stair Galleries, the venerable Hudson, New York auction house. (Stair is also the auction house responsible for selling property from such notables as Brooke Astor, Albert Hadley, and Dominick Dunne.)
With my interest piqued by a number of the lots, I turned to my good friend, Christopher Spitzmiller, to gauge his thoughts on the auction. Christopher is a longtime client of Stair and has furnished both of his homes from sales at the auction house. He also had the privilege of spending a long-ago Thanksgiving at Templeton, a visit that made a lasting impression on him. "As soon as you walked into the house, you saw that pair of elephant tusks and miles and miles of leopard-print carpet," remembers Christopher. But for all of the home's rarefied décor (which included rooms with "layers and layers of one chintz,") Christopher says, "there was a comfortable feel to these sophisticated rooms. There was an American sensibility to everything, including the Thanksgiving sweet potato and marshmallow casserole that was served to us in a silver tureen." But as impressive as Templeton was, it is C.Z. Guest's gardening books that have greatly influenced Christopher. "Her greatest legacy are her books, which are concise and to the point."
Although most of us never did have the opportunity to visit Templeton, we can now get a glimpse at what life was like there thanks to the Guest auction, which, to borrow Christopher's phrase, is "a remembrance of how magical Templeton was." I got an armchair tour of the auction lots thanks to Christopher, who previewed the sale last week. (I have included photos of Christopher's tour in this post so that you, too, can get a sneak peek of the sale.) So which lots caught Christopher's eye? The gilt brackets, which Christopher believes are "quintessential C.Z. and Cornelia Guest," as well as a vermeil brush and compact set engraved with "C.Z." Also sparking his interest were the myriad garden ornaments and books, not to mention Guest's T. Anthony luggage. It's this range of pieces that I believe makes this upcoming auction compelling, something with which Christopher concurs. "Whether you're a gardener, a book collector, or a porcelain collector, there is something for everybody in this sale."
For more information on the sale, please visit Stair Galleries' website.
And a few of the lots that caught my eye:
PAUL LELONG (1799-1846): STILL LIFE WITH FLOWER VASE; AND STILL LIFE WITH URN
Two gouache on paper, Flower Vase signed 'Lelong' lower right, Urn unsigned.
Both approx. 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (sheet), 8 x 10 1/2 in. (frame).
SET OF FOUR CONTINENETAL PORCELAIN VEGETABLE DISH COVERS
Each with relief basket-weave border, floral clusters and sliced lemon knop; one restored.
5 x 9 3/4 in. diam.
LOUIS XVI STYLE GREEN-PAINTED HALL RACK
The arched top above a central mirrored panel flanked by brass coat hooks, above the D-shaped console (lacking top), flanked by umbrella stands.
7 x 42 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.
UPHOLSTERED BANQUETTE WITH A PAIR OF MATCHING PILLOWS
Upholstered in paisley fabric; with a loose rectangular cushion and bolster above the upholstered bench.
23 x 48 x 21 in.
GROUP OF FIVE PAINTED WOOD AND BAMBOO POLO MALLETS, USED BY WINSTON F. CHURCHILL GUEST
One with a painted label on the shaft; Gray's, Westbury, NY; two marked in the mallet head: J. Salter & Sons, Aldershot, England and each mallet numbered 50, 51 and 31, and stamped 'Made in England'.
Note: Winston F. C. Guest (1906-1982) an Anglo-American polo champion. Mr. Guest won the International Polo Cup in 1930, 1936, and 1939. His father was a British politician and the grandson of John Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough.
J. Salter & Sons are polo specialists, in Aldershot, England and manufactures and general sports outfitters. Established in 1884 by J. Salter, now owned by Sean Arnold Sporting Antiques.
Photo of Cornelia Guest and lot photos used with permission from Stair Galleries.