Liz Taylor's nuptial bed in Scottish Victoriana sale

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:41am EDT
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By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - One of the world's finest private collections of 19th century Victoriana goes under the hammer at auction in Edinburgh next week, including a four-poster bed in which Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor celebrated the last of her many honeymoons.

The collection -- amassed by the Forbes family in the United States -- includes furnishings, including paintings, furniture, household wares - and framed items of Queen Victoria's underwear - from Old Battersea House on the south bank of London's Thames river opposite Chelsea.

There is also a painting of Victoria on horseback with her Scottish servant John Brown holding the reins. She commissioned the painting from a photographer to present to Brown on his 50th birthday, and it remained in the family until it was sold and added to the Forbes collection in the 1980s.

Other works include a picture of Victoria and royal consort Prince Albert painted by themselves, and pictures of other Victorian notables ranging from an aging Duke of Wellington to politicians such as Benjamin Disraeli.

London-born Elizabeth Taylor, who died in March in Los Angeles aged 79, made Old Battersea House her base in London and celebrated her honeymoon with the last of her seven husbands Larry Fortensky there. She was married eight times, including twice to Richard Burton. Also on sale are twin beds once occupied by late U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife.

Officials of the Lyon and Turnbull auction house anticipate the sale next Tuesday could bring in up to three 3 million pounds ($4,8 million).

American art expert Curt DiCamillo told Reuters the sale of probably the finest private collection of Victoriana in the world was also expected to raise considerable interest in the United States.

"There is a lot of interest in the U.S. where the Forbes family is regarded as American "royalty" - it's not so much that they're interested in the period - although there is a fascination with the British royal family -- but they just want something from the Forbes house," he said.   Continued...

<p>Elizabeth Taylor arrives for a play in Los Angeles in this December 1, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>