This June, Christie’s offers a fascinating window into the collecting habits of socialites and aesthetes Robin and Rupert Hambro, showcasing an eclectic assemblage of art and objects pulled from their residences at Ebury Street, Copse Farm, and Saint-Rémy in Provence.
Robin Hambro brought a designer’s sensibility and a keen eye for fashion to her interior arrangements, skilfully juxtaposing tradition and modernism with creative flair.
Born Mary Robinson Boyer in 1934, Robin started her career as a model for fashion photographers Horst P. Horst, Patrick Lichfield, and Norman Parkinson before switching to the office of Christian Dior in New York, where she worked in public relations.
During her time there, her New York apartment filled with objects discovered on her travels and a daring collection of modern art, ultimately attracting the attention of Vogue, which featured her home in a May 1967 article. The editorial celebrated her remarkable talent for art curation and combination. She would join Vogue as a fashion editor the following year and, shortly after, became engaged to Rupert Hambro of the Hambro banking dynasty. The couple would set up a home in London.
Their London residence on Ebury Street graced the pages of Architectural Digest in 1995. Beyond its understated facade, their home channelled a vibrant vision thanks to Robin’s extensive knowledge of the art world and her talent as a painter. She continuously refreshed their art collection, embracing 20th-century modernists like David Hockney, Ivon Hitchens, and Craigie Aitchison.
At Copse Farm, sculpture emerged as a focal point, with significant works by renowned female artists Barbara Hepworth and Emily Young, the latter commanding attention in the water garden. The leafy grounds also featured Antony Gormley and Sir Christopher Le Brun sculptures.
In their cherished Provence, where Rupert studied during his youth, the Hambros infused their home with art inspired by North Africa and pieces created by Les Lalanne.
Robin possessed a wide-ranging taste and consistent devotion to ‘old friends’, like painted furniture and Old Master drawings, which found their place in different arrangements throughout the years. She also had an enduring love of blue and white porcelain, reminiscent of the Anglo-American Nancy Lancaster style, evident in their collection. Paintings of dogs rendered by artists such as de Dreux and Desportes were particularly cherished, with Pekineses as the favourite.
The Robin and Rupert Hambro Collection offers a snapshot of the couple’s extraordinary life and tastes. The sale begins at 1 pm BST on 8 June 2023. Browse some of the lots in the gallery.