Lord’s collection under the hammer

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SHE was an 18th-century Marlene Dietrich – a beautiful young German actress with a sparkle in her eyes, a knowing smile and a singing voice which captivated London’s Georgian society.

Now, more than 230 years since her likeness was captured on canvas by celebrated artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, she is again set to take centre stage – at a country house auction in north Northumberland.

But with her comes a mystery. Is the painting, The Coquette, the original that ‘disappeared’ from public view in 1933?

Auctioneer Jim Railton said it has already sparked worldwide interest and is expected to attract serious bidders at the Roddam Hall sale on May 12.

The painting will be sold alongside a large collection built up by Lord Vinson, who is moving from Roddam Hall, which has been his home for the past 40 years. Most of his collection of contemporary pots is being kept, but the surplus will join fine antique furniture, china, pictures, prints and textiles that will be sold by Mr Railton, now based in Wooler, in the grounds of the Georgian mansion. The house will be used for display purposes.

Lord Vinson said: “Throughout one’s life, one is the custodian of fine furniture, pictures and objets d’art and all the clutter that goes with an active home. At auction these items are bought by someone who wants them – and when someone owneth someone careth.”

The sale takes place on Saturday, May 12, at 10am. Viewing is on May 9, 10 and 11. Jim Railton can be contacted on 01668 283000 or 07774 241111.