|HOUSTON At 6- foot, 4-inches tall, and weighing in at 280 pounds, swashbuckler Col. Frederick Gusavus Burnaby was a giant of a man figuratively and literally for the Victorian era.
Entering the Royal Horse Guards in 1859, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and Central Asia, mastered the art of ballooning, spoke several languages fluently, published several books and was admired and feted by the women of London High Society.
His popularity was legendary. He appears frequently in the stories and tales of the Victorian Empire. When he met his end during hand-to-hand combat during the 1885 Battle of Abu Klea in Egypt, at the age of 42, Queen Victoria upon hearing the news was so overcome she fainted.
On Oct. 6-7, Simpson Galleries of Houston will be selling items from the personal collection of Burnaby. This material has come by descent from the heirs, Ray Simpson Jr., said. Among those items is a George Fox (British, mid- to late-19th century) Victorian period sterling silver and glass presentation inkwell. Engraved with scrolled cartouches, the inkwell is engraved Fred Barnaby, FROM G.D.F.
But despite Burnaby’s overwhelming stature in history, he is unable to cast a shadow over Simpson’s upcoming auction, with such highlights as a Soren Emil Carlsen painting, an epergne by English silversmith William Pitts, important and rare vases by Emile Galle and Otto Eckman, a French Napoleon III inlaid boulle cabinet and a selection of fine wines from a private seller.
More than 750 pieces from Texas estates and collectors from California to New York, add pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Pablo Picasso, Chinese art and pottery, Lalique, Baccarat cut crystal, lots of early sterling silver and more.
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