Christie’s is delighted to present The Collection of Rita Espírito Santo and Three Private European Collections, an online auction of 170 lots of European furniture and objets d’art, Old Master Paintings, Chinese and European Porcelain and silver running from 21 June to 12 July, with estimates ranging from £500 to £100,000. Complementing the Rita Espírito Santo group is a selection of lots from the Roman Palazzo of the late Robert de Balkany, as well as property from a Maison Jansen interior on Eaton Square and a further group from an Apartment on Wilton Crescent.
Rita Espírito Santo Silva (1927 – 2020) was the grand-daughter of José Maria Espírito Santo Silva (1850-1915), who founded the Portuguese banking house of that name in 1884. She was the third of four daughters to Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva (1900-1955) and Mary Pinto de Morais Sarmento Cohen (1903 – 1979) who were avid collectors of both fine and decorative arts and were significant patrons of the arts in Portugal. Such was the importance of their collection that two thousand items of Portuguese cultural significance were presented to the Portuguese state in 1953, alongside the Azurara Palace, Lisbon, where the collection was housed; The Fundação Ricardo do Espirito Santo Silva still operates at the Azurara Palace as the Museum-School for Portuguese Decorative Arts. The couple were renowned hosts who enjoyed entertaining in Lisbon, as well as at their summer house in Cascais and their hunting lodge in Alentejo. Portugal’s neutrality during the Second World War meant Lisbon became a refuge for many members of Europe’s Royal families and the Espírito Santos counted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, as well as the members of the Spanish, Italian and French Royal families, amongst their friends. Rita and her sisters grew up immersed in their parents’ passion for collecting. Many of the lots offered in the sale filled the summer house at Cascais, which was decorated by the distinguished Portuguese interior designer, and close friend of the family, Duarte Pinto Coelho. Other lots were sourced for the 17th Century Palacio Sobralinho, which Ricardo set about restoring with the help of Rita after it was destroyed by fire in the 1940s. Upon her father’s death in 1955 Rita made it her home, until she inherited the summer house in Cascais in 1979 along with part of her parents’ collection. She eventually sold Sobralinho, dividing the contents of the Palace between her three children.
A selection of highlights of the sale will be on view at our King Street location from Saturday 3 July – Thursday 8 July.