A Pre-Raphaelite needlework book cover from 'The Book of Beauty'. Photo: Bonhams..
LONDON.- A pre-Raphaelite needlework book cover designed for The Book of Beauty: A Collection of Beautiful Portraits with Literary, Artistic and Musical Contributions by Men and Women of the Day, edited by Mrs F Harcourt Williamson and published by Hutchinson & Co in 1896, is to be sold at Bonhams, Knowle as part of its sale of Costume and Textiles on 27 July 2010. It has attracted a pre-sale estimate of £800 – 1,200.
Of pale green satin embroidered with the figure of a Pre-Raphaelite style maiden holding white lilies and a mirror, surrounded by flowers and foliage in blues, greens and pale pinks and couched gilt thread borders, worked with the initials F.H.W for Mrs. F. Harcourt Williamson, and the title 'The Book of Beauty', with plain panel to the left to cover the spine and reverse of the book, decorative panel 42.5 x 33cm (entire piece 42.5 x 75.5cm).
'The Book of Beauty: A Collection of Beautiful Portraits with Literary, Artistic and Musical Contributions by Men and Women of the Day' edited by Mrs. F. Harcourt Williamson was published by Hutchinson & Co., London in 1896 in a deluxe edition of 300 copies. The book features portraits of society women and their children, poems, short stories, comic sketches, music and summaries of society events, featuring contributions from Rudyard Kipling, Lord Curzon, Sir John Millais and J. M. Whistler.
The National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum hold a copy of the book with identical dimensions.
Only 300 copies of the book, which includes contributions by Rudyard Kipling, Lord Curzon and Sir John Millais, were produced, and this is the only known embroidered cover. The National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum has a copy of the book, but without a cover like this.
The book cover once belonged to the vendor’s uncle, an interior designer. It was inherited by the vendor’s father, who subsequently passed it onto the vendor. It has spent this whole time at the bottom of a bin bag which explains its exceptional condition.
Another lot expected to attract attention is a black leather handbag that belonged to the Queen Mother. Estimated at £100 – 200, the bag was donated by the Queen Mother to a raffle to raise money for a new wheelchair for Invergordon Hospital in 1977.
A black wool and silk blend Alexander McQueen trouser suit worn by Anne Robinson for The Weakest Link is expected to fetch £800 – 1,000. Robinson put the suit up for auction in aid of Children In Need.