Catherine de’ Medici picture
A group portrait of Catherine de’ Medici is rehung at Strawberry Hill House.

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Walpole’s French royals return home

A group portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with four of her 10 children – first bought by Horace Walpole and hung in his London home in 1774 – has returned to Strawberry Hill House 247 years later, thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

The arrangement, brokered by Sotheby’s, settles £1m in tax.

The 6ft 5in x 4ft 5in (1.98 x 1.37m) picture, dated to 1561, is by the workshop of French court painter François Clouet (1510-72). It depicts de’ Medici with her arm around and holding the hand of Charles IX, her third son, who was crowned king of France in 1560, aged just 10. Also included are his brother, the future Henry III, Duke of Anjou, his sister, Marguerite de Valois, the future Queen of Navarre; and François-Hercule, Duke of Anjou and Alençon.

Catherine de’ Medici acted as regent during the first three years of Charles IX’s reign.

Dr Silvia Davoli, the curator at Strawberry Hill House, said the image ref lects the substantial influence Catherine held over the political life of France and the control and guidance she exercised over her son’s rule.

Making Kelmscott ‘Heaven on Earth’

Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor was the inspirational Cotswold retreat of William Morris.

A funding call for the restoration of the Cotswolds retreat of William Morris is being led by the antiques trade.

The ‘Heaven on Earth’ project (a reference to how Morris described his rural idyll at Kelmscott Manor) began in 2019 when the house was closed for repair and the construction of a new Learning Building.

The location is owned by the Society of Antiquaries and the funding campaign is chaired by dealer Martin Levy of Blairman and BADA Friends is supporting the campaign as part of its 30th anniversary.

Levy told ATG: “Despite many interruptions resulting from the pandemic, huge progress has been made over the past 12 months. The new learning centre sits seamlessly in the old farmyard and sensitive conservation work continues apace. The Campaign Group is, meanwhile, seeking additional funding for ongoing educational projects once the manor opens to the public in 2022.” Donors can become a Companion of Kelmscott Manor (£500) or a benefactor (£5000).

Interpol app aid to identify stolen items

The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has launched an app ‘to better protect cultural heritage’.

ID-Art app has been created to help identify stolen cultural property, reduce illicit trafficking and increase the chances of recovering stolen works and artefacts.

Jürgen Stock, Interpol secretary general, said it will allow users mobile access to the Interpol database of stolen works of art and report cultural sites potentially at risk.

Auction house funds placements

Christie’s has partnered with Change 100 (a programme run by pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire) to fund two paid work placements in 2021 for university students with disabilities.

They will be based at its London King Street headquarters (or virtually) from June, and will run for three months.

Christie’s will also fund two placements in public museums, The Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, in association with Change 100.

The Emporium at Sotheby’s NY

Sotheby’s has opened The Emporium, a luxury goods shop in its salerooms in New York.

It will stock items across art, design and luxury to be purchased immediately. The auction house said it is a continuation of its ‘Buy Now’ online marketplace. The items to be sold will be curated by what it calls a “revolving group of tastemakers and influencers”, beginning with cosmetics businesswoman Gucci Westman, founder of Westman Atelier.

Last year, Long Island, New York, was a popular location for auction houses to trial physical shops. Phillips, Christie’s and Sotheby’s all opened stores in the Hamptons.

Binning is back in Berkshire

Elaine Binning

Elaine Binning has rejoined auction house Dreweatts.

Elaine Binning has rejoined auction house Dreweatts after four years away.

Binning, who started out at Sotheby’s in 1988, first joined Dreweatts in 1992 and ran its furniture department before becoming a consultant.

A regular on Antiques Roadshow for two decades, she was most recently a consultant with Woolley & Wallis.

She rejoins Dreweatts in the furniture department.

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In Numbers


The additional fee on the hammer price charged by Russian Art specialist auction house MacDougall’s to buyers of all lots at its June 10 auction who choose to acquire an NFT (non-fungible token) confirming ownership and provenance. The minimum fee is £3000.