Contents of late costume designer’s studio fetch more than £52,000 at auction

The contents of the studio of an artist who designed costumes for opera star Dame Joan Sutherland and ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev have sold at auction for a total of more than £52,000.

Michael Stennett, who died aged 74 in 2020, worked at his studio in Yoxford in Suffolk, where he designed costumes and sets and painted portraits, landscapes and still lifes.

He created costumes for stars including opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, English actor and politician Dame Glenda Jackson and US actor and former fashion model Mia Farrow.

Brett Tryner, a director at Cheffins in Cambridge – where the collection was auctioned on Thursday, said the results were “testament to Michael Stennett’s skill as a painter and designer and also his fantastic collection of works by other artists”.

Studio contents
The contents of the studio of Michael Stennett are to be sold (Cheffins/PA)

“Buyers came from far and wide, with sales to Australia and throughout Europe,” he said.

“Michael Stennett was a leading light in the world of costume design, and this sale offered the opportunity for people to buy up a part of the history of opera.

“Suffolk continues to be an excellent source of art and antiques and at Cheffins we look forward to offering more fantastic pieces to the market from the county at our other upcoming auctions.”

Stennett had worked in partnership with opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London and Drottningholm Court Theatre in Stockholm.

The collection that went to auction included about 300 paintings and drawings by Stennett, including costume designs for performances from 1967 to 1984 including Le Nozze di Figaro from the Australian Opera, Swan Lake from the Malmo Ballet, Julius Caesar from the English National Opera and Werther from the Royal Opera House.

The costume jewellery which he made for Dame Glenda’s role in the BBC drama Elizabeth R was sold to a UK private buyer for £800.

The individual lot that fetched the highest sum was a painting by Patrick Procktor, of his friend Mo McDermott, which sold to a London trade buyer for £7,500.