ARTWORK collected by a North-East aristocratic dynasty using wealth derived from the region’s coal mines is to be auctioned off.
More than 200 pieces of art purchased by successive Marquesses of Londonderry to decorate the family seat at Wynyard Park, near Sedgefield, will go under the hammer at Christie’s in London.
The Vane-Tempest-Stewart family used colossal riches from the collieries of the North-East to collect rare and unique artwork.
The collection includes a painting, The laying of the foundation stone of Seaham Harbour, 1828, by Robert Mackreth, which is estimated to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000.
The painting was commissioned by the third Marquess and his wife Frances Anne Vane-Tempest after they constructed the harbor to carry their coal to London.
Another picture, Herbert Dicksee’s The Dying Lion, which was hung in the ballroom at Wynyard, is expected to go for between £70,000 and £100,000.
A portrait of Frances Anne Vane inside Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of William IV by French painter Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet will also be auctioned off. The painting has a guide price of £12,000 to £18,000.
Other reminders of the illustrious history of the Londonderrys include a Louis XIV ormolu-mounted bureau and a pair of Italian olivewood commodes.
Adrian Hume-Sayer, Christie’s specialist and associate director, said the Londonderry family was one of Britain’s wealthiest aristocratic dynasties and was synonymous with the important art collection they assembled.
He said the collected offered "an insight into a vanished world of grand political salons and of glamorous aristocratic house parties", adding: “The historic importance of the family as politicians, industrialists, collectors and patrons, is evident throughout this fascinating group, which gives a rare glimpse into both the public and private lives of this illustrious family and provides a unique opportunity to acquire works which have never before been offered on the open market.”
The title of Marquess of Londonderry was created in Ireland in 1816 for Robert Stewart.
The third Marquess, Charles William Stewart, married the Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, the daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, in 1819.
The Vane-Tempest family already owned numerous coal mines in the North-East and the third Marquess extended the empire by buying the Seaham Hall estate and building a new hall at Wynyard Park.
The Wynyard estate remained in the family until 1987 when it was sold to Sir John Hall, former Newcastle United chairman.
A statue of the third Marquess of Londonderry lies in Durham Market Place.
The auction will take place at Christie’s on May 23.