The John Anderson Brown Collection – Country Style in the Heart of Hawthorn

At one time or another, anyone who was anybody in Melbourne society will have graced the halls of the stately home, Norrac, 23 View Street, Hawthorn.  Home to John Anderson Brown and Roman de Kimpe for over half a century, the palatial Italianate residence was the focal point for a generation of fashionable Melbourne, its sumptuous interiors recalling a bygone era of the English country manor, in spite of its location in the heart of one of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs.


Built in 1881 for the Melbourne timber merchant, James Wright, the property was purchased in 1964 by John, a real estate agent in Richmond and Roman, proprietor of the South Yarra salon, Noisette and a distributor for the French perfumery Guerlain, who proved to be diligent custodians.  After restoring the property to a single home, following its division into four residences in the early 20th century, they then took to the job of restoring the interior of the property to its former grandeur, a task pursued with great gusto during a series of overseas buying trips, which formed the basis of the collection.

Although a number of items from the collection were sold in later years to fund various maintenance requirements for the property, the contents of Norrac as it exists today is largely intact.  Among John and Roman’s most notable early purchases were the James I oak fire surround, to be sold with the property, which dominates the expansive formal dining room and is juxtaposed with an equally imposing 17th century Aubusson tapestry, covering over four metres of the main wall of the room.  From here, each of the rooms in turn features an array of early Continental and English furnishings, fine art and objects, complemented by Chinese and European porcelain and a charming collection of Indian reverse glass painted portraits.

Following Roman’s passing and John’s decline in health in recent years, the Anderson family has appointed Leonard Joel to manage the dispersal of the John Anderson Brown Collection as a single owner feature in the Classic Furniture, Objects and Collectables Auction, Lots 1- 103, from 12pm on Sunday 27th October, at Leonard Joel’s primary salerooms, 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra.

The collection will be viewed on-site:
23 View Street, Hawthorn, from Wednesday 23rd to Saturday 26th October, 10am to 4pm.

Catalogue online soon

Guy Cairnduff BA | Head of Classic Furniture, Objects & Design | The Specialist Collector
Approved to value classes of objects for the Australian Government’s
Cultural Gifts Program
dl. +61 (0) 3 8825 5611
m. +61 (0) 407 828 137