Adelaide mayoress auction a slice of history

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 19th April, 2018

Auction goers will be able to obtain a slice of Adelaide history when the estate of Lady June Porter goes under the hammer in her home at 4/22 Bagot Street, North Adelaide from noon Sunday April 22.

Sir Robert (Tom) and Lady June Porter (who died in October last year aged 98) were an integral part of Adelaide’s social life and held the position of Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress from 1968 to 1971.

Born in 1919 in Melbourne, she moved to Perth with her family as a child and at the age of 18 was crowned Miss Western Australia.

June met her future husband in Perth when he visited with the South Australian polo team and, despite the difficulties of a long distance romance across the Nullarbor Plain, they married on March 31, 1942 at St Peter’s College Chapel in Adelaide.

Tom’s 18-month stint in India during World War II as an aide-de-camp to Governor Richard Casey, who later became Australia’s Foreign Minister and then its Governor-General, sparked their collecting passion.

During this time June Porter entered the opulent society of the British Raj as lady-in-waiting to Lady Rutherford, wife of the governor of Bihar – relishing the chance to attend continuous dinner parties and balls along with elephant rides and pukka picnics.

The Porter collection tells the story of the couple’s life from the Indian paintings representing their time on the sub-continent to their later years in Adelaide’s high society celebrated by June’s impressive jewellery collection and English antiques.

Some of the more interesting furniture items include a circa 1710 William and Mary low boy, an 18th century Anglo Dutch marquetry and string inlaid burr walnut bombe commode and a George III mahogany string inlaid Sheraton style fold over tea table.

A circa 1720 George I fall front walnut bureau is another attraction along with a 1705 Queen Anne walnut chest-on-stand, Regency mahogany cross-banded sofa table and Louis XVI style needlepoint upholstered walnut stool.

Sterling silver is a major drawcard with a circa 1765 George III footed salver from London’s Alexander Johnson and an 1899 rose bowl by Chester’s George Nathan & Ridley Hayes typical examples.

Paintings include Albert Tucker’s Landscape with parrots, Will Ashton’s River Seine, Kenneth McQueen’s Landscape watercolour and Cedric Flower’s Horse drawn carriage.

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