Rule Britannia: Highlights from Berger Collection Educational Trust

Launch Slideshow

William M B Berger and Bernadette Berger began collecting British art in the 1990s with a passion that has rarely been matched. In just a few years, they amassed one of the most important collections of British art in America, spanning over 600 years. The Bergers were dedicated to using art as a vehicle for education. “We have always believed that art, as well as music, poetry, and literature, refreshes and enriches our lives,” they saidIn order to further their mission, the couple founded the Berger Collection Educational Trust. The trust’s mission focuses on British art, culture and history, and uses the collection that the Bergers created to further its goals. Sotheby’s upcoming sale Collections Online: Paintings & Object through the Centuries features a group of paintings, silver, manuscripts and other objects from the Berger Collection Educational Trust. Click ahead to view sale highlights.

Collections Online: Paintings & Objects through the Centuries

2–19 June | Online

Rule Britannia: Highlights from Berger Collection Educational Trust

  • A Model K6 cast iron telephone box designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, mid-20th century. Estimate $500–1,000.
    Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott to commemorate the silver jubilee of George V, the K6 Kiosk model was produced from 1936 to 1968. During that time, 70,000 boxes were manufactured, but roughly 11,700 survive today. This new design was favored due to its smaller size and more modern, streamlined aesthetic. In 2013, there were only 2,150 listed K6 telephone booths still in use in England. The decommissioned boxes have been repurposed as sidewalk libraries, fun doorway façades, or even large aquariums.

  • James Holland, Portrait Of The Langford Family, circa 1841. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    This interior scene exemplifies the lasting influence of 18th century master portraitist William Hogarth on British portraiture well into the following century. This painting depicts Edward William Langford of Blackheath with his wife with their daughter Anne Elizabeth, who subsequently married Charles Shirreff in 1852. The wit and intimacy of this family portrait are found in the clever Hogarthian details – the playful demeanor the daughter, slouching against her father with toys scattered underfoot, while her parents stare distractedly into space, perhaps full of worry. 

  • James Seymour, Jumping The Gate. Estimate $8,000–12,000.
    The horse depicted in these works is Raw Head & Bloody Bones, a chestnut hunter belonging to Winston Churchill. The horse was somewhat famous in his time and won the Hunter’s Plate at Odley (of which there is no record in a Gazetteer). The Bergers were able to also locate and purchase Seymour’s original preparatory sketch, which will be offered together in this single lot.

  • A group of cast lead Britains Ceremonial toy soldiers, mid-20th century. Estimate $100–200.
    Britains was the company who popularized these diecast lead soldiers. This lot was once held in the Forbes Museum of Military Miniatures in Tangier. Malcom Forbes began to collect toy soldiers almost accidentally. One day at an auction, as he was waiting for his lot to come up, he bought a lot of toy soldiers on impulse. After this first purchase, he quickly expanded his collection and set up a museum in Tangiers, Morocco, as well as one in the Forbes Building in New York.

  • An English silk and seed pearl embroidered purse, 17th century. Estimate $2,500–3,500.
    In 17th century Britain, small purses were not worn or carried by individuals but were, instead, often used as handmade gift bags. They often contained small tokens that were lavishly wrapped in needlework bags, such as this one, which is decorated with copious amounts of seed pearls and silk.

  • David Scott, R.S.A., Oberon And Puck Listening To The Mermaid's Song, 1834. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    This work illustrates a moment in Act 2, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, where Oberon reminisces:

    My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remembe'rest / Since once I sat upon a promontory, /And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
/ Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath/ That the rude sea grew civil at her song/ 
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres/ 
To hear the sea-maid’s music.

  • After David Roberts R.A., The Great Sphinx, Pyramids Of Gizeh. Estimate $1,200–1,800.
    In the late 1830s, David Roberts took a long tour through Egypt, Nubia, the Sinai, the Holy Land, Jordan and Lebanon. During this expedition, he filled three sketchbooks and executed more than 270 drawings. These drawings and watercolours were the source material for his celebrated book of lithographs Egypt and Nubia, first published as part of the three-volume folio by F G Moon in London between 1846 and 1849.

  • An Edward VII silver-gilt font cup, Crichton Bros., London, 1909. Estimate $1,000–1,500.
    This cup was gifted to the Rt Hon Leopold Stennet Amery from 28 fellows from All Souls College, Oxford upon his marriage on 16 November 1910 to Florence Greenwood. It is a replica of a cup from 1557 now in the Kremlin Museum, Moscow.

  • English School, Philip And Mary I Of England , circa 1555. Estimate $6,000–8,000.
    Mary I of England ascended the throne of England on 18 June 1553. She married Philip, heir to the throne of Spain, in 1554. The design of this work is similar to a number of shilling and half-shilling coins, introduced in 1554 to commemorate the royal marriage and often referred to as “kissing coins.” The couple, depicted facing each other in profile, are surmounted by a combined coat of arms of England and Spain, as well as the motto Hony soyt qui mal pense (Shame be to him who thinks evil of it) the motto of the British Order of the Garter.

  • Block of four Penny Black stamps, 1840. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    This scarce multiple of the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, with the iconic profile of Queen Victoria. The first of these stamps were issued on 1 May 1840. 

  • A Victorian silver kettle and lamp stand, Robert Hennell II, London, 1855. Estimate $3,000–5,000.
    This Victorian novelty kettle has been realistically modeled as a melon, with branch-form handles, spout and lampstand.


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