Historic Marie Antoinette tapestries from Bantry House to go under the hammer
A set of tapestries made to celebrate Marie Antoinette's wedding to the Dauphin of France is among prized artworks being auctioned off from one of Ireland finest historic homes.
The owners of Bantry House in Co Cork - once the seat of the Earls of Bantry - said they have taken the difficult decision to sell major contents to raise money for its upkeep.
The collection, valued in the region of one million euro, includes furniture and art sourced by the second Earl of Bantry on his travels across Europe, including several 18th century French tapestries.
One of the panels is said to have hung in the Palace of Versailles and the set, beautiful rose-coloured Aubussons, are said to have been made to order for Louis XV to mark the wedding of his son, the heir to throne, in 1770.
"It is a wonderful house with an extraordinary history," said Brigitte Shelswell-White, whose late husband Egerton's family lived in the house for more than 300 years.
"It has been a very difficult decision, but also an exciting and stimulating one. The funds from the sale will inject a new energy into the house and also into us, as a family."
Viscount Berehaven, who became the second Earl, travelled extensively seeking pieces of art, furniture and tapestries to adorn the house, with many pieces coming from Russia and Poland.
Among them is a Russian household shrine which contains 15th and 16th century icons, a pair of William Kent style console tables and a pair of portraits from the studio of Allan Ramsay of George III and Queen Charlotte, presented by King George to the First Earl of Bantry when he became a peer.
Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull are organising the sale.
Director Gavin Strang said: "Lord Bantry's collection has long been recognised as having great artistic and historical interest."
The sale will take place on October 21 at Bantry House with everything free to view in the four days running up to the auction.