Edinburgh – The handsome Georgian house Meldon Park, built in 1832 for the wealthy Cookson family, sits in a 3,800-acre estate in Northumberland. Described as ‘the last flowering of the Georgian country-house tradition’, Meldon Park is notable for its huge windows on the south and east sides, a nod perhaps to the glass and chemical works which were the foundation of the Cookson fortune. (The estate itself is considerably older; a previous owner James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, lost it to the Crown following his attainder for treason in the 1715 Jacobite rising). Meldon Park has been home to seven generations of the Cookson family (their occupancy only broken when the house served as a children’s hospital during World War II) but is now being sold and a selection of its contents will be offered for sale at Bonhams’ 248-lot Collections Sale in Edinburgh on Thursday 2 February 2023. Among the highlights is The Arch of Constantine, Rome, a painting in oils by the British artist Jacob Strutt (1790-1864) estimated at £10,000-15,000.
Writing in the winter edition of Bonhams Magazine, the art and design historian Ruth Guilding provides an evocative glimpse of the sale. “Meldon Park is not just great architecture. Its objects – some of great beauty and preciousness, some prosaic, poignant and practical – show us the generosity of a way of country-house living, revealing the interests and pastimes of a more leisured prelapsarian age.”
Charles Graham-Campbell, Bonhams Director of Valuations in Scotland, said: “Meldon Park offers collectors a wonderful array not only of paintings and furniture but also of the humbler objects which played their part in the life of this quintessential English country house. The inclusion of the fascinating selected contents of a private Scottish estate promises to make this Collections sale one to remember.”
Other highlights of Meldon Park include:
- Duncan’s horses, by John Lough (British 1789-1876). Estimate: £7,000-10,000.
- Soldiers standing before ruins and a young woman at a well by circle of Paolo Panini (Italian 1690-1765). Derived from a composition by Giovanni Paolo Panini, in a private collection, the work is estimated at £6,000-8,000.
- A George III mahogany six pedestal dining table. Estimate: £7,000-10,000.
- A rare George II carved giltwood cabinet stand. Possibly attributable to Henry Flitcroft (1697 – 1769). Estimate: £3,000-5,000.
- A very fine north Bohemian engraved glass beaker, circa 1700-1710. Estimate: £1,800-2,500
The sale also offers the selected contents of a private Scottish estate. Highlights include:
- A pair of Russian style mahogany and gilt metal-mounted commodes. Dating from the 18th century with later adaptations, the pair is estimated at £6,000-8,000
- a pair of 19th century French gilt and patinated bronze figural six-light candelabra in the empire taste. Estimate: £4,000-6,000
- An unusual life-sized carved and stained beech lay figure or artist’s mannequin. French, from the early 20th century, the mannequin is fully articulated with brass fingers, together with a stand. Estimate: £3,000-5,000.