The Rayner Collection jointly encompasses the lifelong interests of husband and wife, George and Janice Rayner, with each facet of their respective collections reflecting their personal passions.
Janice Rayner’s enthusiasm was sparked by a former physiotherapy patient of hers, who gifted her a René Lalique glass vase in 1956. From that point on, her collection grew through the romantic generosity of her husband, George, who would often surprise her with a new addition to the collection, including a rare and impressive ‘Vendome’ pattern ceiling light. Janice recalls that this appeared one day on the doorstep as an impromptu gift, and then illuminated the dining room of their next three family homes.
Although each piece was admired for its beauty and design, most of the collection, being vases, were used regularly for fresh cut flowers. The vases that received the most prominent placements were the Bacchantes, Actinia, and Ceylan designs.
René Lalique (1860 – 1945) was a French master craftsman and entrepreneur, with a legacy of artistic flair and diversity in his work, spanning jewellery, medals, and glass.
Janice’s collection features vases, bowls, and stemware, in variations of opalescent glass and patinated colours, with most being period works by René Lalique.
From childhood, Janice had a love of birds, which we see reflected in her Lalique collection, in pieces like the Ceylan and parakeet vases. This interest is also seen in her and George’s library, which includes good quality leather bound reprinted volumes of Ornithological works, including John Gould’s “Birds of Australia”.
George’s interests were concentrated on his library, which featured an array of expedition and voyage reference books, with a particular focus on Tasmanian historical reference. George was a prolific reader with a passion for Tasmanian history from 1642, which was of personal interest as George was a Tasmanian native whose paternal ancestor, William Rayner, was a convict on the second fleet, and on his maternal side was Tom Lucas, who reputedly raised the flag for Admiral Arthur Phillip.
Another area of expertise that George coveted was conchology, an interest that overtook the family house; with cabinets of shells lining the hallways. He was an avid collector, with packages still arriving in the mail right up to his passing in 2010. His collection of shells was considered to be one of the largest in the southern hemisphere.
George sold his significant shell collection some 20 years ago, however part of his shell reference library remains.
Janice’s collection of Lalique and ornithological items will be offered within our Decorative Arts auction on July 24th, and George’s library will be offered on Thursday June 22nd.
CHIARA CURCIO / Head of Decorative Arts
Banner Image: Highlights from The Rayner Collection