V&A Museum turns down Margaret Thatcher wardrobe
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has turned down the chance to exhibit former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's clothes.
Lady Thatcher's family offered the contents of her wardrobe to the V&A.
But the gallery said it collected items of "outstanding aesthetic or technical quality" rather than garments with "social historical value".
More than 300 items will now be sold at auction next month instead. Lady Thatcher died two and a half years ago.
She was the longest-serving premier of the 20th Century and Britain's only female prime minister to date.
The clothes to be auctioned by Christie's include her blue velvet wedding dress and various power suits worn during her tenure in Downing Street, plus handbags and jewellery.
A spokesperson for the museum told The Daily Telegraph: "The V&A politely declined the offer of Baroness Thatcher's clothes, feeling that these records of Britain's political history were best suited to another collection which would focus on their intrinsic social historical value.
"The museum is responsible for chronicling fashionable dress and its collecting policy tends to focus on acquiring examples of outstanding aesthetic or technical quality."
In recent years the museum, which described itself as "the world's leading museum of art and design", has put on crowd-pleasing shows of fashion by designer Alexander McQueen and clothes worn by pop legend David Bowie.
COLLECTIONS|VIDEO|NOVEMBER 3, 2015
Mrs Thatcher: A sale offering unique insights into the ‘Iron Lady’
On 15 December in London, Christie’s will offer Mrs Thatcher: Property from the Collection of The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS — a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire property from a leading political figure of the 20th century
In the year that ‘The Iron Lady’ would have celebrated her 90th birthday, approximately 350 historic and personal lots will be offered across two landmark sales: a flagship auction presenting 150 lots in London at Christie’s headquarters on Tuesday 15 December, and an online only sale comprising 200 lots from 3 December to 16 December. These sales are taking place 25 years after Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) left Office, following an 11-year tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990).
With items relating to Margaret Thatcher’s time in Office, including her red leather Prime Ministerial Dispatch box (estimate: £3,000-5,000), speech notes and an impressive gift from President Ronald Reagan, alongside jewellery, clothes and handbags, these auctions present unique opportunities for collectors to acquire property from the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 20th century — and the only woman to have held Office to date. Estimates range from £200 up to £180,000.
Becoming Mrs Thatcher
Margaret Roberts, 26, at her wedding to 36-year-old Denis Thatcher at Wesley's Chapel, in London © Associated Press
Mrs Thatcher’s wedding outfit. Estimate: £10,000-15,000. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
On 13 December, 1951, at the age of 26, Margaret Roberts married Denis Thatcher at Wesley’s Chapel in the West End of London. Marking the start of the couple’s married life together, the wedding outfit will be offered on 15 December, comprising Mrs Thatcher’s midnight blue velvet wedding dress, with a sweetheart neckline and long sleeves, labelled Constance Gowns and Suits, Old Bexley; a blue velvet soft brimmed cap with a curled pink ostrich feather and a blue velvet muff, with an Art Deco double clip silver and marcasite brooch (Estimate: £10,000-15,000; illustrated above).
This outfit is said to be inspired by Gainsborough’s celebrated portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The wedding reception was held at 5 Carlton Gardens, the home of Sir Alfred Bossom, one of Margaret Thatcher’s earliest and greatest supporters.
The Prime Minister (1979-1990)
Prime Ministerial Dispatch Box, embossed with the royal cypher of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Estimate: £3,000-5,000. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
Highlights from Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister are led by her red leather Prime Ministerial Dispatch Box, embossed with the royal cypher of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, inscribed ‘Prime Minister’ and numbered ‘1’.
A piece of political history, the sale also includes a signed and bound copy of ‘A Grand Finale, The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher’s Last Speech As Prime Minister’, House of Commons, 22 November 1990 (estimate: £500-800).
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: The Special Relationship
A 20th century Kaiser bisque figure of an American bald eagle, modelled by Gerd Pitterkoff. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
Margaret Thatcher visiting Ronald Reagan, Washington DC, 1988. Photo by Sipa Press/REX Shutterstock
Illustrating the high regard in which Margaret Thatcher was held in America, and specifically by President Ronald Reagan, is a 20th century Kaiser bisque figure of an American bald eagle, modelled by Gerd Pitterkoff. The inscription reads ‘Presented to the Hon. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain for staunch and spirited support of the market economy principle. The Award was presented by the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg with the best wishes from Ronald Reagan President of the United States June 13th 1984, presented at the Foreign Office 10 Downing Street.’
A suit of Royal blue wool crêpe by Aquascutum which was worn in parliament when Mrs Thatcher was serving as Prime Minister. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
A black cocktail suit by Tomasz Starzewski, worn by Margaret Thatcher at her 70th birthday celebration. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
The daughter of a professional dressmaker, Margaret Thatcher was ‘brought up to know the importance of cut’ and recognised the potential power of fashion to enhance, project and mirror individual stature, as well as its role in commerce.
Regarded as a style icon by many, wearing carefully selected outfits, her look became synonymous with ‘power dressing.’ These sales present an extraordinary array of attire worn on countless historic occasions throughout Margaret Thatcher’s life.
Margaret Thatcher in Germany, 1986. Photo by REX Shutterstock
Highlights include the iconic ‘Tank’ raincoat by Aquascutum worn during a visit to British Forces at a NATO training ground near Fallingbostel, Germany in September 1986 (estimate: £10,000-20,000, including the beige silk headscarf, with ‘Hôtel Ritz, Paris’ into the border); a black and white houndstooth tweed wrap, that reverses to fuschia pink, which was worn during her visit to Washington in 1988 (estimate: £800-1,200); and a camel-coloured cashmere coat with a stranded mink collar by Aquascutum that she wore on her official visit to Moscow in March, 1987 (estimate: £1,500-2,500).
A classic navy blue leather handbag by Launer, London. Estimate £2,000-3,000. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
‘Handbagging’ is a verb which the Oxford English Dictionary notes was ‘coined in the 1980s by Julian Critchley, Conservative MP, with reference to Margaret Thatcher’s ministerial style in cabinet meetings’, the dictionary defines it as ‘(Of a woman) verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully’. The sales present a number of Mrs Thatcher’s handbags, with the auction on 15 December including a classic navy blue leather handbag by Launer, London, which will be offered together with a Washington University silk scarf.
Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet, circa 1930 Estimate: £120,000-180,000. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
A George III diamond flower brooch, circa 1800 Estimate: £8,000-10,000. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
The jewellery to be offered in the auction on 15 December is led by an exquisite Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet, circa 1930. A firm favourite of Mrs Thatcher’s was a George III diamond flower brooch, circa 1800. Margaret Thatcher was widely photographed wearing this brooch both in Britain and abroad, and is wearing the brooch in her official portrait which hangs at 10 Downing Street. Pavé set throughout, the brooch comprises old cushion, pear and circular-cut diamonds.
A Chelsea plate, circa 1760. Estimate: £800-1,200. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
The Latham Centrepiece, Albuhera, 18.6.1811, by Michael Sutty. Estimate: £600-1,000. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher sale on 15 December at Christie’s in London
Providing an insight into Margaret Thatcher’s private world, the sale features 18th, 19th and 20th century English porcelain, glass, gold boxes and silver. Baroness Thatcher’s personal penchant for collecting early porcelain is highlighted by a charming Chelsea plate, circa 1760, which is hand painted with exotic birds, within shell and scalloped pink panelled and gilt-edged borders.
Margaret Thatcher also collected British porcelain figures of both statesmen and people from military history. One of her favourites among the group was The Latham Centrepiece, Albuhera, 18.6.1811, by Michael Sutty.
Online only sale
A small Fendi holdall of black canvas, with gilt hardware and an Aquascutum silk scarf. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher online sale, 3-16 December
A dress and matching coat of shot fuschia pink silk by Tomasz Starzewski. This piece will be offered in the Mrs Thatcher online sale, 3-16 December
Comprising approximately 200 lots, with estimates starting from £200, this sale will provide a wealth of further opportunities for international collectors.
Highlights include a small Fendi holdall of black canvas, with gilt hardware and an Aquascutum silk scarf with emerald green border and houndstooth centre (estimate: £700-1,000); and a glamorous dress and matching coat of shot fuschia pink silk by Tomasz Starzewski which was made for Margaret Thatcher in 2007 (estimate: £500 - 800 )