Art of collecting – Dreweatts “Robert Kime: The Personal Collection” auction Oct 2023
Dear readers, one of the thing that fascinates me about interior design, is that one can literally experience the spatial artistry and the style of the designer himself, each single element that specifically hand-picked to decorate the space from a piece of fabric to furniture, a rare objet d’Art or a piece of master painting, it all comes down from the eyes and taste of the interior designer, also his sensitivity in the architectural aspect, and his skill to manipulate the item and materials that selected to be used and decorated in a living (or commercial) space. One of the best way to look for unique and exquisite decorative objects, is to find them in antique shops or sometimes flea markets in Europe; visiting flea market is one of my favorite thing to do whenever I was in Paris, but there’s another way to hunt for exceptional art objects and furniture with much profound history, artistry and meaning, and that is through an auction house sale. If you are into English classic interior design, then the upcoming “Robert Kime: The Personal Collection” held by auction house, Dreweatts UK, will possibly be up to your alley.
When I came across about this auction, I was amazed that how little that I knew about this esteemed late British decorator and antique dealer despite how much I am intrigue about the world of interior design, and how impressive and extensive his collection is through out his life and career. As one of the most respected and adored decorators of his generation, Mr. Robert Kime starts off as a young antique dealer in his teens before embarking his career into interior design, he studied Medieval history at Worcester College, and travel extensively to exotic countries from Egypt to Turkey, his sensitivity in beautiful, intricate fabric and ethnic design, adding his classic English aesthetic, which makes Robert’s work – both his interior design, and art object collecting as an antique dealer - fascinating and enchanting that stimulates one’s intellectual senses not just merely about the superficial prettiness; as a sought-after decorator and antique dealer by countless elite clients: from noble families to top fashion designers, even King Charles III as well (which Robert was commissioned by then-Prince Charles to redecorate Clarence House, a previously home to the late Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen mother, and Highgrove House, the King’s home in Gloucestershire), his timelessly elegant style – a classic English aristocratic country meets exotic far-east antiquarian aesthetic, makes him one of the ‘great assembler’ of beautiful things.
“You often hear of people who are said to have ‘a good eye’, but Robert Kime’s must surely be one of the best.’’ King Charles III said.
This upcoming auction is the culmination of Robert’s lifetime of collecting, and it will take place from 4th to 6th October 2023 at Dreweatts’ Donnington Priory salerooms, the collection will comprise of over 750 lots ranging his passion, curiosity and delight in beautiful things through the contents of his homes in London and Provence. Some of the highlight included a striking water-colour and pencil landscape by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) titled “New Year Snow”, the painting was loved by the whole family and has hung in several of Robert’s homes, as is customary with many of Robert’s pieces. Another noteworthy painting which is an Elizabethan portrait of a man with pickaxe and a spade in a landscape, it moved between several of Robert’s homes, and it is an example of the relationship that Robert had with each of the objects in his collection.
With his passion and love about far east culture, a range of ceramic pieces will also be found in the auction, that included a Ming dynasty Chinese blue and white lotus jar, decorated with stylised flowers, and an Iznik pottery jug, displaying the typical range of colours of this type of craft, which was practised during the 16th and 17th centuries in Iznik, a town in north-western Turkey. Antique textiles, intricated fabrics and rugs are also Robert’s favorite among other artistic objects that he collected in his life, inherently, one can also find a selection of delicate rugs and furniture throughout this auction, that included two important 16th century Ushak rugs which Robert displayed as artworks on the wall at his Warick Square apartment, one of ‘Lotto’ design, and one of ‘small pattern Holbein’ design from the West Anatolia region in Turkey, the latter is a particularly rare and apparently unpublished example.
To me, the most intriguing items come from his furniture collection, for instance, a late 19th century red leather armchair, is by the eminent Victorian furniture makers, Howard & Son; the armchair is another example of Robert’s design philosophy, of combining comfort with high quality design, he bought it many years ago and it was seen as an ‘old friend’ that travelled with him from house to house.
Another piece which is the George II carved giltwood pier mirror from circa 1755, it is the last piece that Robert ever bought, it was formerly in the collection of Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners (1883-1950), a British composer, novelist, painter and aesthete, who inherited his title alongside Faringdon House, Buscot in Oxfordshire. The architectural pediment and frame of the mirror is carved with a pierced shell, foliate scrolls and a trellis ground, its bevelled plate is thought to be original and its gilding shows traces of 18th century gilding.
“I don’t know how you describe romance, actually, but some objects have it, they just have something that is more than themselves. If you’re interested in them, you can communicate it, and they can communicate it too…and it’s just magic, it’s just how life is” Robert once said, and I cannot agree more; we collect certain art objects to reminds us certain moments in life, sometimes it’s not simply one item but it’s a series of ensemble that create a vivid visual scenario, an ambient, that makes us travels back to those memorable moments, enable us to remember how precious and difficult it is to discover those unique treasures that represents one’s taste and artistry, in a way, it also tells us the history of the object itself or a story of its owner from an intellectual level that nobody can see nor experience except from its owner’s eye. Perhaps through these precious and one-of-the-kind items from this auction will do the work, to take you to experience Robert’s decorating and antiquarian life from the artist’s vision.
Image courtesy of Dreweatts UK.
Cover photo: ©Tessa Traeger