Withnail and I in the living room of Professor Bernard Nevill
Withnail and I, a British black comedy from 1987, has been described by the BBC as “one of Britain’s biggest cult films” and established Richard E. Grant’s film career and it celebrates its 35th anniversary this spring.
Set in 1969, it follows two unemployed actors as they decide they need a holiday and borrow the cottage owned by Withnail’s eccentric Uncle Monty. Uncle Monty’s house in Chelsea was the home of Professor Bernard Nevill – West House, Glebe Place – and the scenes were filmed in his living room.
History of Bernard Nevill’s collection
Professor Bernard Nevill (1930 – 2019) was a textile designer and educator. He taught at the Central School of Art and Design from 1957-60 and then at the Royal College of Art and St Martin’s School of Art from 1959-74. He was a collector of antiques, and his hobby was to restore houses and stuff them with the purchases he made.
He had a love for Victorian art, which had fallen out of fashion due to the fact that most pieces were rather big. He tried to save books, textiles, clothes, furniture and objects from death.
He started collecting buildings and architectural salvage as well. His first house was West House in Chelsea, bought from the Church Commissioners in 1976.
His Liberty collections for the London department store Liberty & Co helped the success of the printed textiles which were important for fashion in clothes and homes from the 1960s-80s.
His 1981 English Country House collection for Sekers influenced the shabby, cluttered tone of 80s interiors, and many period television series since.
When Bernard Nevill fell ill, his accumulations were released back into the world. West House was sold in 2011, and most of its contents were auctioned, but he took some possessions to a new home, a flat in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. Crates were parked in various places until his death.
Items included in Bernard Nevill’s Estate auction
- A first half of the 17th century Flemish historical tapestry depicting a battle scene, 291cm high & 504cm wide estimated £2,000 – £4,000
- A large chesterfield style sofa with arched back and outswept arms on mahogany estimated £3,000 – £5,000
- An Italian bronze bust of Plato or Dionysus, after the Antique, circa 1870 estimated £2,000 – £3,000,
- A pair of French ormolu ten-light candelabra estimated £1,200 – £1,800
- A bronze figure of Neptune, after Giambologna, possibly Late 17th Century/18th Century estimated £600 – £800
- An 18th century Italian mother-of-pearl and pewter ebonised commode estimated £2,000 – £3,000
- A Victorian oak octagonal centre table in the manner of Philip Webb estimated £1,500 -£2,500
- A Victorian oak framed open armchair with studded green leather upholstery on turned supports estimated £200 – £400
- A portrait of a lady and a large landscape by Thomas Edwin Mostyn (British, 1864-1930). The oil on canvas is titled Peace, measures 175 x 236cm estimated £5,000 – £8,000.
- A Portrait of Lady Hamilton is a three-quarter length portrait by Henry Harris Brown (British, 1864-1948) measures 136 x 91cm estimated £1,500 – £2,500.
Auction dates and other information
Bellmans is now including the furniture and works of art from this film location as part of the auction of his estate. It will be part of Bellmans’ February Interiors sale of Works of Art, Furniture and Picture & Prints, held from 22nd to 24th February 2022.
The Trustees and Executors of the estate have confirmed that all the proceeds from the sale will be donated for a good cause to UK registered charities in loving memory of Bernard Nevill.
Bellmans are holding auctions in 2022 on 18th to 20th January, 14th February, 22nd to 25th February, 29th March to 1st April, 11th April, 10th to 13th May, 21st to 24th June and 14th July. Contact Bellmans, if you would like to consign any items for future auctions. www.bellmans.co.uk.
For further press information, images or to arrange an interview, contact Silke Lohmann: [email protected] or 07932 618754.