EDINBURGH.- Lyon & Turnbull
are to sell the contents of Bantry House, County Cork, one of the finest and best loved historic houses in the Republic of Ireland. The sale will take place the 21st of October, 2014 on the premises at Bantry House. Formerly the principal seat of the Earls of Bantry, the house was owned and run by the late Egerton Shelswell-White and his wife, latterly with the help of their eldest daughter Sophie, who has been General Manager since 2010.
"It is a wonderful house with an extraordinary history" says Mrs. Shelswell-White, whose husbands family have lived in the house for over 300 years. "It has been a very difficult decision, but also an exciting and stimulating one. The funds from the sale will inject a new energy into the house and also into us, as a family. This decision will free us to make new plans and allow us to be open to different proposals and new ideas. I feel it will make it possible for Bantry House to have a future as a successful place, more in step with the times we live in."
She continued: "I feel certain that every single item will go to a good home and be treasured and looked after as we have tried to do. Many of the objects in the sale are of museum quality and need to be expertly cared for, a luxury we could only afford with great difficulty. The house and gardens will continue to be open to the public and we will continue to run and possibly expand our successful bed and breakfast business. We will be able to hold more weddings, concerts, exhibitions and other events, aiming to extend the season into the winter months, securing and creating jobs for those involved with the house. This season will be the last opportunity to see the house with its contents as it is now and has been for many years."
Items in the sale include many paintings, furniture and books collected by the second Earl of Bantry, including some exquisite French tapestries that adorn the walls of several of the rooms. Produced in the workshops of Gobelins and Aubusson in the 18th Century, one of the two Gobelins panels is said to have hung in the Palace of Versailles and there is a particularly beautiful rose-coloured set of Aubussons, which are said to have been made by order of Louis XV for Marie Antoinette on her marriage to the Dauphin of France.
Gavin Strang, Director of Lyon & Turnbull said Lord Bantry's collection has long been recognised as having great artistic and historical interest. As a young man, Viscount Berehaven, who later became the second Earl, travelled extensively in Europe; visiting countries as far distant as Russia and Poland, seeking out the pieces which were to form his remarkable collection of furniture, tapestries and other works of art that are included in the sale.
Among the furniture in the sale is a Russian household shrine which contains 15th and 16th Century icons and an impressive pair of William Kent style console tables. The paintings in the collection include a pair of portraits from the studio of Allan Ramsay of George III and Queen Charlotte, presented by King George to the First Earl of Bantry on his elevation to the peerage.
Immediately prior to the sale the house and contents will be on view to the public on October the 17th, 18th 19th and 20th of October, with the sale on the 21st October 2014.