As it Unfolds
Property from the Personal Collection of Robin Woodhead
Online Auction: 4–10 November 2022 • 2:00 PM GMT • London

As It Unfolds: Property From the Personal Collection of Robin Woodhead 4–10 November 2022 • 2:00 PM GMT • London

A s it Unfolds reveals fine and decorative art from the personal collection of Robin Woodhead, former Sotheby’s Chief Executive and Chairman. Put together over many decades spent discovering places, people, history and art, the collection juxtaposes work by contemporary artists such as Grayson Perry, Damien Hirst and Mona Hatoum with 17th and 18th century European furniture as well as objects and images collected from around the globe. Poachers Cottage, Robin and his husband Christian’s home in the country, provided a wonderful backdrop to the collection and was a refuge from the bustle of the London artworld, nestled into the hillside overlooking a glorious Dorset valley. It was a very special place, almost literary, as if sprung from the pages of E.M. Forster’s ‘Howards End’. With never-ending views of hill and sky, the house is outside-in as windows and doors frame the dazzling countryside.


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Inside, comfortable rooms unfolded, lived-in and loved, with objects and pictures placed as if they had been together forever. There were clever surprises at every turn: windowsills were shelves for striking ceramics, the green glazes of Chinese pots capturing reflections from light against a backdrop of verdant leaves; an 18th-century ‘Country’ oak desk sat upon a Moroccan rug laid across an English stone floor in an alcove lined with books. Upstairs there are shifts in tone: wonderful photographs, grey, black and white, contrasted with the pen and ink of old master drawings hung against a steely blue-green ground; an elegant guest room, lined with trompe-l’oeil-painted walls, hosted comfortable furniture and a beautifully figured Colonial wardrobe. The kitchen, which rose-up through the house with its high vaulted ceiling, also featured objects drawn from distant places: an Orkadian crofters chair sat beside a fireplace surmounted by an African mask; an Italian old master painting and a Spanish 17th-century walnut trestle table shared their own recessed space, with the feel of an altar, whilst opposite, Grayson Perry’s ‘Map of An Englishman’ held court above a solid Georgian mahogany table hosting the drinks tray.

Part of the sale proceeds will support an exciting new artists’ residency programme being developed by Robin and Christian, for Khula Education, supported by the David Rattray Foundation, a UK charity of which he is Chairman.

As it Unfolds In Context

The following photographs capture the magical interiors of Poachers Cottage, Dorset. These show much of the fine and decorative art from the collection that is offered here shown in situ.

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