Personal items that give a fascinating glimpse into the life of Vivien Leigh, screen icon and star of the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind, are coming up for sale at Sotheby’s London in September.
Leigh’s luminous performance in the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind ensured her legendary status. Now, fifty years after her death in 1967, the collection, which goes under the hammer on September 26, will celebrate her life’s journey from pre-war London, to Hollywood and marriage to Laurence Olivier.
Items included in the sale range from paintings, jewellery, couture, and books, to furniture, porcelain and objets d’art. Myriad pieces drawn from the city and country homes Vivien shared with her husband and give a new perspective on the actress, from her appreciation of art and patronage of Modern British artists, to her passion for books and fondness for entertaining and interior design.
Vivien Leigh’s family commented: “We hope people take as much pleasure from this collection as our grandparents, parents and families have done.”
Harry Dalmeny, Sotheby’s UK Chairman, commented, “This is our chance to discover the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh. Behind the guise of the most glamorous and talked-about woman of her age we find a fine art collector, patron, even a book worm, who was the intellectual equal of the literati, artists and aesthetes she counted among her coterie.”
He added, “Fifty years on from her death, this sale opens the door into Vivien’s private world, allowing us a privileged and fascinating glimpse into a world that otherwise only her closest friends could ever have known.”
In total, approximately 250 lots will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s in London on September 26, with estimates ranging from £100 to £100,000.
A selection of highlights from the collection opens today at Sotheby’s London, running until August 11, will include:
Vivien Leigh’s personal copy of Gone with the Wind, given to her by the author Margaret Mitchell (est. £5,000-7,000)
Gone with the Wind film script, presented to Vivien Leigh by members of the cast, with photographs, circa 1939 (est. £2,500-3,500)
A silver cigarette box, engraved with ‘Vivien and Larry Love Myron [Myron Selznick]’. A present from the man credited with securing Vivien the role of Scarlett O’Hara (est. £400-600)
A gold ring inscribed ‘Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally‘ (est. £400-600)
Fashion and Jewels, including a pink full length evening dress by Victor Stiebel from circa 1961 (est. £200-300) and a large mid-19th-century diamond bow brooch or pendant (est. £25,000-35,000)
Vivien’s wig for the film A Streetcar Named Desire, inscribed with her name (est. £400-600)
A portrait of Vivien by Augustus John, 1942 (est. £5,000-7,000)
Notley Abbey by John Piper (est. £8,000-12,000) and Durham Cottage by Felix Kelly, 1954 (est. £3,000-5,000)