Hostel fundraising: selling off proceeds from a scandalous marriage
A collection of marbles and paintings amassed by the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland with proceeds from her scandalous marriage are to be sold to finance youth hostels.
Described as “highly desirable”, the entire collection is said to represent the works most sought-after by art patrons around 1900. The haul, comprised of 17 sculptures, 36 paintings and one 19th century textile, will now be sold at Sotheby’s for an estimated £500,000.
Until recently, it has been housed at Carbisdale Castle, the last castle to be built in Scotland and originally owned by the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland who scandalised Victorian society with her affair with the third Duke. Born Mary Caroline Mitchell and nicknamed Duchess Blair, she eventually married him and was left the majority of the Sutherland inheritance over his children, and later sentenced to six weeks imprisonment for destroying relevant documents.
After the row was settled, the Dowager Duchess used her money to build the castle, stocking it with the finest statues and paintings she could muster. She famously designed the castle around a tower with clocks on three sides only: the missing face, pointing towards Sutherland lands, was said to show she no longer wishes to give the family the time of day.
In 1945, long after her death, the castle was donated by its then-owner Captain Harold Salveson to the Scottish Youth Hostels Association. The castle, nicknamed the Castle of Spite and said to be haunted, was closed in 2010 after suffering frost damage, with its precious contents being moved into storage. They will now be sold to help finance hostels elsewhere in Scotland, in the hopes of encouraging more people to visit.
Among the star pieces include Andromeda by Italian sculptor Pasquale Romanelli, which has an estimate of £120,000, and a Venus and Cupid for £80,000.Christopher Mason, Sotheby’s European sculpture specialist, said: “Encompassing the elegant Neoclassicism of the early part of the century to the fantastical Romanticism of the Belle Époque years, the works on offer shine a light not only on collecting tastes at the height of the British Empire, but also on how sculptors of the period created works of astonishing beauty and grace through their masterful handling of marble.”
Keith Legge, CEO of Scottish Youth Hostels Associations, added: “It has been a privilege for SYHA to have been the custodian of Carbisdale Castle and its contents for the past 70 years enabling our members and guests to experience living in a castle“The proceeds of the sale will be used to sustain SYHA’s diverse youth hostel network of affordable fit-for-purpose accommodation, allowing everyone, but especially young people, to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer.”
The works will be part of the Sotheby’s 19th & 20th Century sculpture auction on May 20, in London.
Source: The Telegraph