Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "When I was a child, my grandfather would take me to Oxford's Ashmolean Museum where we would play a game as to which work of art we would take home. I would like to say I chose Uccello's Hunt in the Forest or one of the museum's matchless Chinese vases. But for me, the standout object was a rusty lantern carried by Guy Fawkes on the night of the Gunpowder Plot. It wasn't what it looked like – you can buy distressed metalwork like that in any Moroccan souk – it was because it had a tangible connection to an event that changed history which made it so compelling.
Some of the objects in this season's sales have an equally exciting claim on our imagination. In April's Waterloo Sale, for example, held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle, there is the Marquess of Anglesey's gold box. The Marquess, then styled as Earl of Uxbridge, was the solider who having had his leg blown off, remarked to the Duke of Wellington, moments after the event, "By Gad, Sir, I've lost my leg."(To which the Duke replied, "By Gad, Sir, so you have!") Once amputated, the shattered leg went on to have a ghoulish life of its own – it was put on display at Waterloo and became a tourist attraction. By contrast, the Marquess's gold box is an exquisite item in its own right, but it has an added resonance because it belonged to a legend of stoicism.
Another auction that brings history alive is of Tipu Sultan's arms and armour in April's Islamic and Indian sale in New Bond Street. Tipu, the soi-disant Tiger of Mysore, was a thorn in the British side. With his superior weaponry, he was able to hold off the invaders. One can see why: a magnifi cent gem-set sword with a tiger's head would be enough to dazzle anyone on the battlefield.
But it is our cover star who exemplifies the way in which magic dust can be sprinkled on art and artefacts. Bonhams is offering some 700 objects from the estate of Lauren Bacall, who died last year. Bacall had a superb eye – and that translated into a superlative collection of art and antiques. As a lifelong fan of the star, it was a wonderful experience to walk round her apartment at The Dakota in New York with her son, Sam Robards and Bonhams specialist, Jon King, who was a friend of Bacall's. Turn to page 30 to see the treasures on display. What will be your 'take home' work of art?
Enjoy the issue."
Lucinda Bredin is Editor of Bonhams Magazine