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Treasure trove of antique furniture collected by Sir William Whitfield sells for £1.5m 

A treasure trove of antique furniture and rare tapestries collected by late architect Sir William Whitfield has sold for total of £1.5million.

Sir William died last year aged 98 and the everything-must-go sale was held by his civil partner at the Palladian house in St Helen Auckland, County Durham.  

The 570 lots, which included an abundance of fine furnishings and decadent decor, were sold across two days.  

One of the finest pieces in the collection was a rare 17th-century Flemish tapestry which was originally valued at £8,000. 

But the 11ft by 13ft hanging depicting the Triumph of Mark Antony, which hung on the wall of the country home’s saloon, actually sold for £150,000.

Other lots included a second historical tapestry of Paris that achieved a price of £33,750 and a George II mahogany dressing commode that sold for £75,000.

Eight bronzed wood panels made by the Italian carver Anton Leone Bulletti in 1864, which had been in the drawing room, added £66,875 to the total.

portrait painting of Francesco de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany by a follower of Italian artist Alessandro Allori went for £50,000 as well as a matching pair of George III mahogany library armchairs dated to 1765 selling for £17,500.

Sir William was acknowledged as being one of the finest architects of his generation. 

During the course of his career he developed a design approach that combined modernist trends alongside great historic architectural tradition.

His most notable projects include Richmond House, the Department for Health building in Whitehall, the new chapter house for St Albans Cathedral and the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge.

In the 1960s he and his partner Andrew Lockwood saved St Helen Hall from demolition and restored it to its former glory over the course of the next four decades. 

Joe Robinson, house sales and collections manager at auctioneers Dreweatts of Newbury, Berkshire, which held the sale, said: ‘It is so rare for such a well curated collection to come to the market.

‘These works derived from established provenances, known artists and historic styles, which delighted a new generation of collector.

‘The collection offered both style and substance, and the market decided. 

‘We experienced record numbers of registrants and new bidders from around the globe. 

‘Sales such as these bring an electric atmosphere. Traditional areas of the market such as ceramics are seeing a comeback as today’s buyers are opting for comfort and character – this sale proves it.

‘We are delighted with the result. Some of the more decorative lots sold for more than 10 times their original estimates.’

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