22nd Jul, 2020 10:00

Fine Interiors - Two Day Sale - Live Online

Lot 331


Sir Francis Grant RA (Scottish, 1803-1878)

Sir Francis Grant RA (Scottish, 1803-1878)
Portrait of John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle-Drax, MP (1800-1887), three-quarter length, seated in a library chair, holding glasses, a landscape beyond
Oil on canvas
125 x 98cm

Provenance: The Property of the Trustees of the late Mr J S W S Erle Drax (old label refers), Olantigh Towers, Kent;
Wood Hall, Arkesden, Essex.

John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle-Drax took the family to its greatest wealth and notoriety, earning himself the nickname 'The Mad Major'. Already a rich man, Samuel married Jane Frances Erle-Drax-Grosvenor in 1827 and added two of her surnames to his own in 1828 to secure her inheritances including Charborough House in Dorset, resulting in the impressive name of John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge-Erle-Drax. He had inherited the vast Sawbridge fortune at the age of fifty-one and spent money prodigiously on work at both Olantigh and Charborough Park, where he was the MP for the nearby 'pocket borough' of Wareham. At Charborough, between 1841 and 1842, John had created one of the longest brick walls in the country using almost two million bricks. This was more than matched by his spending at Olantigh where he added huge picture galleries and Venetian towers giving the later name of Olantigh Towers. By the time he had finished the house was 21-bays wide on the north front - over 200-feet long. When he visited the Great Exhibition in 1862 he purchased one of the two very large fountains which stood at the entrance which was then installed in front of the house at a cost of over £3,000 (the other was purchased by Daniel Ross and installed as the 'Ross Fountain' in the Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh). This extravagance was also repeated with the interiors and picture collections with his galleries containing works by Ruisdael, Lorrain, Bugiardini, Fidanza, and Melone amongst others.

Erle-Drax built his mausoleum, located beside Holnest church in the Blackmore Vale in Dorset, fifteen years before his death. He included in the Byzantine-style design a letter box, through which he arranged to have 'The Times' delivered daily. He died on 5 January 1887, at which time the date was added to the epitaph. The mausoleum was demolished in 1935 and replaced by a flat memorial stone.

The Major and his wife sadly did not have children and so following his death in 1887 the house, estate and now superb collections passed to his nephew, Wanley Ellis Sawbridge-Erle-Drax, who again shared his time between Charborough and Olantigh.

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Sold for £2,000

Condition Report

Oil on canvas which has been lined. The canvas tension is slightly slack but the picture is in plane. The paint layer is in a good, stable condition. There are some prominent age cracks, notably running horizontally through the sitter's face. Around the sitter's head and in darker paint passages is a crust like surface, this is likely to be adhesive from the lining canvas and could be removed through cleaning. There are a few scattered retouchings, mainly located in the background. The varnish is slightly uneven due to the adhesive residues. The original gilded surface of the frame has been bronze painted.



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Auction: Fine Interiors - Two Day Sale - Live Online, 22nd Jul, 2020

The summer edition of our Fine Interiors sale has plenty for anyone from the discerning collector to the interior enthusiast to get excited about. The two day sale includes a wonderful array of silver, including single owner collection of fruit knives , the principal contents of Wood Hall, Essex, and a fascinating selection of pieces which have been expertly refurbished, as featured on Salvage Hunters: The Restorers. As well as this, we have plenty more pieces of fine furniture, paintings and works of art to suit any decorative style or interior scheme.


Wednesday 15 – Monday 20 July, 9.30am-4.30pm, including Saturday and Sunday.


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Wednesday 15 – Monday 20 July, 9.30am-4.30pm, including Saturday and Sunday.


Removal of Lots

All lots should be removed by 5pm on Friday 31 July 2020.  Furniture and carpet lots remaining after this date will be removed to:  Perry Removals, Chapel End, Broxted, Essex CM6 2BW.  Removal will be at a cost of £20 +VAT per lot and storage will be charged at £2 +VAT per lot, per day.

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