A leading Scottish aristocrat’s sale of hundreds of family treasures has been described as “a fascinating time capsule of domestic operations on a Downton Abbey scale”.
Bonhams has announced The Dunrobin Attic Sale to be held at its Scottish saleroom in Edinburgh on April 20.
Under instruction from the 25th Earl of Sutherland, the auction will include more than 450 lots, including paintings, portraits and historic photographs, picture frames, marble sculptures, crested dinner services, and an array of treasures from the castle’s kitchen and cellar.
Estimates have been set at a level that will enable as many people to take part as possible and range from £8,000-12,000 for a Portrait of the Duke of Brunswick by the Dutch Golden Age portraitist Jan van Ravesteyn, and £8,000-10,000 for a pair of Scottish all-metal flintlock belt pistols made by Alexander Campbell of Doune, in the third quarter of the 18th century, to £80-120 for a collection of pewter sugar moulds.
Writing in the winter edition of Bonhams Magazine, the architectural writer and author of Highland Retreats; the Architecture and Interiors of Scotland’s Romantic North, Mary Miers gives a flavour of the objects in the sale.
She said: “They represent a fascinating time capsule of domestic operations on a Downton Abbey scale. Maids’ bedrooms tucked into the eaves of the earlier ranges had been reconfigured to become porcelain stores, with rows of footbaths, floral jugs and washbasins, chamber pots and piles of crested dinner services, all jostling for space with meat domes, tiered oyster holders and untold numbers of copper vessels and glass carafes.
“The forthcoming Dunrobin Attic Sale offers an opportunity to own some of these glorious objects – tangible reminders of an astonishing château in the wilds that encapsulates stirring history, unbridled wealth and the romanticism of the Highlands.”
Charlie Thomas, director of house sales, said: “The Dunrobin Attic Sale provides a glorious opportunity to purchase a piece of history from one of Scotland’s grandest and most historic castles. Many of the items have been hidden away in Dunrobin Castle for generations and never been seen on the open market before. They provide a wonderful snapshot of what it was like to live both upstairs – and downstairs – in the Highlands’ premier ducal palace.”
Managing Director of Bonhams in Scotland, Charles Graham-Campbell said: “Attic sales are always very popular, and the Dunrobin Attic Sale has everything – great provenance, fascinating items and of course a rare glimpse into a way of life, now long vanished. I am sure that many members of Clan Sutherland around the world and indeed ex-patriot Scots everywhere will be eager to take part in the sale. We are very much looking forward to what promises to be the highlight of our spring season.”