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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Longleat auction to preserve future
Marquess of Bath
Lord Bath has tried to avoid depleting Longleat's collection
One of Britain's most flamboyant members of the aristocracy is selling off paintings, furniture and books to safeguard the future of Longleat House stately home.

The Marquess of Bath is hoping to raise more than 15m during two days of auctions at Christie's in London, starting on Thursday.

The money will go into a maintenance fund for the preservation of Longleat House - famous for its lions - and its historic collection and estate in Wiltshire.

The items up for sale - including Old Masters, silverware and manuscripts - represent a small part of Longleat's total collection.

Lord Bath and his trustees picked lots that had least historical connection to the estate, with the majority coming from a collection given to Longleat after World War II from Norton Hall in Northamptonshire.

Van Goyen's A River Landscape
Van Goyen's A River Landscape is included in the sale
"I have had the privilege to live at Longleat for the best part of my life and has given me huge pleasure. I love the place and have enjoyed share it with thousand of people year after year," said Lord Bath.

"I intend to continue that link which will only be possible if we have enough resources to maintain and conserve our family home."

Conservation

The Longleat Estate consists of approximately 9,000 acres of land forming one block with the house and park in the middle of it.

The 9,000 acres consists of 4,000 acres of let farmland, 4,000 acres of woodland, which includes a Center Parcs holiday village and a further 1,000 acres of parkland.

Money from the maintenance fund will provide a vital source of income for future conservation work on the site.

The first part of the sale will bring together books and manuscripts taken from the impressive Longleat library.

Le Fevre
Le Fevre's book dates back to 1473
Among the collection are Caxton imprints, first editions of Greek and Latin classics and travel and natural history books.

It also includes the first book printed in the English language, by William Caxton in Bruge, before he introduced the printing press to Britain.

Fine example

The copy of Raoul Le Fever's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, 1473, is estimated to fetch up to 400,000.

Thursday evening's sale will include examples of English and European furniture as well as pottery, porcelain and silver.

A highlight will be the sale of a bureau cylindre by David Roentgen, which Sotheby's has given a high estimate of 800,000.

On Friday the sale will be taken up with paintings and pictures from house, mainly focusing on Dutch Old Masters which were donated to Longleat.

One fine example is a pair of full-length portraits by Gerard Terborch which could demand bids of up to 800,000.

There will also be works by Jan Josefsz van Goyen, Salomon van Ruysdael and Christian van Vianien.


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30 Oct 00 | UK
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