Furniture and textiles from the collection of Lady Helen Hamlyn offered at Bonhams10 September 2021 Works from the collection of designer and philanthropist Lady Helen Hamlyn come for sale at Bonhams this month.
A fashion graduate from the Royal College of Arts, Hamlyn began working as a designer for Cresta Silks and Debenhams, later turning to philanthropy after her marriage to the German-born British publisher Lord Paul Hamlyn (1926-2001).
The 164 lots at Bonhams' sale on September 21 comprise a fine selection of the antique textiles that Lady Hamlin has collected for many years (including some important Renaissance tapestries), plus British and European oak and vernacular furniture and associated works of art.
There is also room for the occasional items out of left field – not least a customised bicycle from Elton John’s 1974 American tour. A cross-section of items from the sale is pictured here.
This 17th century oak and walnut enclosed chest of drawers inlaid with mother of pearl and ivory was formerly the property of Sir Charles Bennet Lawes-Wittewronge, 2nd Baronet (1843-1911). A rower, athlete and sculptor, at his home, Rothamsted Manor, he created an Elizabethan fantasy interior with no expense spared – all recorded in 1906 by Country Life magazine.
A pair of hand embroidered crewel work cushions made using early 18th century fabric with later backing. Estimate £400-600.
Caneware game pie dishes were made to resemble a pastry crust and were popular when flour was in short supply during the 19th century. This 28cm wide pair by Davenport c.1850 are moulded with a lattice and rope twist design with crimped decoration to the rims and foot rims.
A fine pair of 18th century North Italian terracotta lions mounted on later elm bases, 122cm wide.
Depicted in a similar style to the famous Medici lions, these were bought by Lady Hamlyn from Paris gallery Galerie Canavèse in 2005. Estimate £20,000-30,000.
Lady Hamlin was a pioneer in the use of antique textiles as upholstery for furniture – a device now favoured by decorators on both sides of the Atlantic. This Edwardian walnut wingback armchair in the George II style is upholstered in a mid 18th century needlework. Estimate £2000-3000.
A rhinestone encrusted bicycle customised by American costume designer Bill Whitten (1944-2006) for Sir Elton John and used on stage during his 1974 American tour. It formed part of his flamboyant 'Bicycle John' ensemble, the corresponding platform boots and costume in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, having been donated by the singer.
Lady Hamlin bought the bicycle at Christie's, South Kensington in 2014.
A pair of French or Italian crimson silk tassels, possibly 18th century. Estimate £200-300.