National Trust icon collection for auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 20th March, 2017

The major James Gleeson surrealist painting Sea-wrack Involving the Heads of Tristan and Isolde is one of the highlights among a collection of his works belonging to the late Rodney Davidson to be auctioned through Mossgreen from noon Tuesday March 21 at 935 High Street, Armadale.

Born in Melbourne on April 13, 1933 and educated at Melbourne Grammar before going on to become a successful solicitor and company director, from an early age Davidson developed an interest in collecting books that documented Australia’s early history – which he later expanded to include furniture, decorative arts, jewellery and art.

Gleeson was a personal friend and Davidson’s art collection – along with the remainder of his treasures – was built up over more than 70 years.

However, he is best known for his major involvement with the National Trust movement, particularly in Victoria – and was an inspiration to many as a protector of Australian history and buildings.

Founding chairman of the Historic Buildings Preservation Council established in 1974, Davidson held many other posts including Victorian National Trust president from 1986 and Chair of the Australian Council of National Trusts from 1982-1991.

The same year he became Victorian National Trust president, Davidson chaired the Royal Exhibition Buildings Trust and during his tenure the building was restored to its original form.

In recognition of his contribution to the nation’s heritage, in 1974 Davison was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) followed in 1989 by an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO).

Of note among Davidson’s collection is a William III standard silver gilt cup and cover by John Bodington, dated London 1708.

Another interesting collectable is an 1811 Paul Storrier George III sterling silver teapot.

A circa 1830 Russian rectangular tri-colour snuffbox by Johann Wilhelm Keibel (1788-1862) and a late 18th century German gold and enamel bonbonnière are other attractions.

Chelsea figures are another drawcard, including a seated bagpiper, along with a collection of Japanese kutani ware.

Other attractions include a boulle and giltwood desk and a black marble top Empire style commode. 

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