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MALLET T Established 1865


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141 N E W B O N D S T R E E T , L O N D O N W I Y OBS T E L E P H O N E : 0 2 0 7 4 9 9 7 4 1 1 • F A X : 0 2 0 7 4 9 5 3 1 7 9 • E - M A I L :


FOREWORD By Lanto Synge INTRODUCTION By Nicholas Goodison IN S E A R C H OF T H E A N C I E N T S Classical design in the late 18th century


ADAM PERIOD The Rosebery desk The Apsley House torcheres A Chippendale secretaire abattant The Keate coin cabinet A Sheraton harlequin Pembroke table A ladies' writing cabinet A pair of anthemion back armchairs MATTHEW BOULTON Bacchanalian vase Venus clock Venus perfume burner Emperor candle vases A large pair of blue john perfume burners Minerva clock Blue john perfume burners A winged figure candelabrum A pair of ormolu perfume burners A pair of white marble perfume burners Cleopatra vases Urania watch stand A pair of candelabra A French clock T W O O R N A M E N T A L C L O C K S BY V U L L I A M Y By Roger Smith BENJAMIN VULLIAMY An Astronomy clock A Sphinx mantel clock REGENCY A Regency day bed A bonheur du jour A secretaire cabinet A writing table A collector's cabinet A sarcophagus inkstand An ormolu centre table A specimen wood sofa table A cabinet in the Egyptian taste A pair of bronze and ormolu table lamps

14 22 26 30 36 40 42

- -

— —


44 48 50 52 56 58 62 64 66 68 70 72 — 76 - 80 .82

86 90

94 96 98 100 102 106 110 112 114 116


Mallett's are hugely proud and feel privileged to have acquired this r e m a r k a b l e collection o f M a t t h e w Boulton objects and great neoclassical furniture. It was formed by a passionate enthusiast noted for his scholastic a p p r o a c h and a pursuit o f absolute perfection o f detail. T h o s e qualities are seen on every page here and indeed this is a r e m a r k a b l e assembly o f pieces. M a t t h e w Boulton achieved in his gilt metal objects a dignified sophistication quite different to French o r m o l u pieces and in addition they often incorporate the uniquely British blue j o h n , or other rare stones. E m b l e m a t i c o f English neo-classical taste, typified by the architect R o b e r t A d a m , Boulton's w o r k s , together with the outstanding furniture shown here, display a very special glory derived from the e x t r a o r d i n a r y impetus o f neo-classical inspiration that arose in the E u r o p e a n and decorative arts from the 1 7 6 0 ' s o n w a r d s . T h e collection also includes fine items that followed on in this tradition in the Regency period, pieces with a m o r e dramatic and theatrical neo-classicism associated with the reign o f G e o r g e IV. I a m e n o r m o u s l y grateful to Sir N i c h o l a s G o o d i s o n , the leading authority on M a t t h e w B o u l t o n , for his Introduction and for his assistance with cataloguing, to M a r t i n Levy o f Blairman for his help, and also to R o g e r Smith for his invaluable observations on the pieces by Benjamin Vulliamy, c l o c k m a k e r to the King.

L a n t o Synge C h i e f Executive

Front c o v e r : M i n e r v a C l o c k by M a t t h e w Boulton (see page 5 8 ) . Frontispiece: A detail from one o f a pair o f a n t h e m i o n back armchairs (see page 4 2 ) .

The Age of Matthew Bouhon - Masterpieces of Neo-Classicism



It is not often that so many pieces of

sales in 1 7 7 0 - 1 . Made of blue john, glass

fluorspar (page 5 6 shows two particularly

decorative ormolu from Bouhon and

panels painted to simulate aventurine, and

fine vases made of this stone), he also used

Fothergill's manufactory at Soho have been

stamped and cast ormolu ornaments, they

local marbles (pages 4 4 and 6 8 ) and

seen together. Even the best pubhc

typify Boulton's early essays in the making

sometimes gilt copper.

collections of Matthew Boulton's ormolu

of smaller decorative pieces. The altogether

ornaments in Birmingham, London and

grander vase on page 4 4 , made in about

The range of his products included candle vases, perfume burners, clock cases,

New York, which contain pieces of the

1 7 7 6 - 8 of white marble mounted with cast

watch stands, candlesticks, ewers,

greatest quality, do not number as many

ornaments, shows a refinement of design

girandoles and sconces, furniture and door

pieces as we see here today.

and manufacture of which the manufactory

mounts, tea urns, ice pails, picture frames

was incapable less than ten years earlier.

and several other objects. But the vast

This exhibition is the happy result of a decision by a perceptive collector in the

Boulton's repertoire of ornament was

majority were candle vases and perfume

United States to sell the collection which he

drawn from books, models borrowed from

burners, often combined. This collection

has built during the last thirty years. The

other makers, plaster casts, other artefacts,

has good examples of each. It also contains

collection well illustrates the fashion for the

architects (particularly William Chambers

a 'Minerva' clock case (pages 58 to 61),

antique taste and the craze for vases which

who was his major influence after 1 7 7 0 ) ,

one of three expensive designs which he

Matthew Boulton exploited. There is a

indeed from anywhere and anyone who

tried to sell to the Russian court in 1 7 7 1 - 2 ,

splendid range of vase forms, two classical

suited his aims. He set out to rival the

and an obelisk watch stand depicting

gods, three goddesses (including a muse),

French bronziers

Urania the Muse of astronomy (page 73),

four emperors, and a host of classical

sorts of china vases with gilt mounts, but

with an equation table on an enamel plaque

figurative and decorative motifs.

rather than use china bodies he preferred

on the pedestal, intended for the French

to find his raw materials nearer home. In

market. These two pieces illustrate

The collection includes vases

who had mounted all

some cases he used glass bodies from his

Boulton's liking for classical allegory, as do

Boulton's ormolu ornaments during the

friend James Keir's works at Stourbridge,

the 'Venus' vase (page 51) and the

1770s. The candle vases on page 70 for

but in most of his vases he used stone

'Bacchanalian' vase (page 4 4 ) , which to my

example were one of the earliest designs at

bodies from Derbyshire. Best known for

eye is the most satisfactory of all Boulton's

Soho and are of a type which figured in the

mounting blue john, a beautifully veined

vase designs. It depicts Mercury giving the

representative of the developing range of

Left: detail from the M i n e r v a clock (see page 5 8 ) . Right: detail from a winged figure candelabrum (see page 64),

la W'

T h e Age o f M a t t h e w Boulton - Masterpieces o f Neo-Classicism

infant Bacchus to his aunt Ino after his m o t h e r Semele had been burned up when she asked to see Z e u s in his real f o r m , and is suitably decorated with Bacchic revellers and vines. T h e design is based on a wellk n o w n classical vase. It was with designs such as these that Boulton and his partner J o h n Fothergill hoped to m a k e money out o f the nobility and gentry. Boulton put a huge a m o u n t o f effort into developing his c o n t a c t s with potential buyers o f his o r n a m e n t s , and had some considerable success, as both his archives and m a n y surviving o r n a m e n t s show. But the business was a financial failure, being in Keir's w o r d s ' t o o expensive for general d e m a n d , and therefore not a proper o b j e c t o f wholesale m a n u f a c t u r e ' . O n the credit side, it greatly enhanced his reputation for m a n u f a c t u r i n g objects o f quality in metal and gave him plenty o f c o n t a c t s a m o n g influential people, both o f which paid o f f handsomely when he developed his businesses in steam engines and coinage. It also provided him with many designs and models which he was able to apply to his silver and silver plate business. Today's discerning collectors have very much taken t o Boulton's o r m o l u o r n a m e n t s . T h e y are right t o do so, because they are a m o n g the most outstanding examples o f English decorative art in the antique taste (the c o n t e m p o r a r y term for w h a t later b e c a m e k n o w n as neo-classical taste). It is instructive to see them in this collection a c c o m p a n i e d by other fine objects m a d e in the same taste, particularly the superb marquetry roll-top desk (page 14) and the small cabinet with pietra dura panels and English ormolu mounts, designed by R o b e r t A d a m for G e o r g e Keate in 1 7 7 7 (page 3 0 ) . I wish I could tell you that these mounts were made at Boulton and Fothergill's m a n u f a c t o r y at S o h o , like the m o u n t s for the well-known cabinet with pietra dura panels made by Ince and M a y h e w t o a design by R o b e r t A d a m for the D u k e and Duchess o f M a n c h e s t e r in 1 7 7 4 - 6 , which is now in the Victoria and Albert M u s e u m . But no evidence for the m a k i n g o f this r e m a r k a b l e o b j e c t has yet c o m e to light.

Left: Matthew


by an unknown artist. Rcproduccd

by courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Above: Detail from the Emperor candle vases (see page 52).

The Age of Matthew Boulton - Masterpieces of Neo-Classicism

IN S E A R C H OF T H E A N C I E N T S Classical design in the late 18th


Towards the end of the 18th century

to return without that sense of inferiority

England had matured as a world power

from which, according to Dr Johnson, every

1 7 9 5 and 1 8 1 5 and it became increasingly

and her dominions stretched across much

man suffered who had not been to Italy.

difficult to profit from the man-hours

of the globe. With this new maturity came

Not surprisingly, what they saw on their

required to inlay with complex marquetry

a sense of immortality that the prosperity

travels would play a major role in shaping

the grander pieces of furniture. The easiest

and longevity of the nation was held firmly

the fashionable taste of the day to display

solution was to use gilded metal, primarily

in the grip of a people who over the past

their wealth and culture to their peers.

one hundred and fifty years had established strong trading links to all corners of the globe, supported by a navy of unmatched superiority. Apart from the loss of the American colonies, there was a long spell of peace, brought about by the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1 7 6 3 that ended the Seven Years War, which allowed for much innovative experimentation in the arts, particularly designs for architecture and furniture. Many of the elite class of newly rich, whose huge wealth had been won through trade and not battle, began to thirst for a fashion not carved from their own aesthete and taste but from another glorious age and civilisation, that of the ancient Greeks. It was the tales of Homeric heroes entwined with the beauty of classical architecture that was the lure to young men to undertake the grand tour and complete what they saw as essential for their education and acceptance into a sophisticated society back in England and

Right: The tomh of Agrippa in the Pantheon, Rome 1682 (see page 106).

Opposite page: Detail from the Rosebery desk (see page 14).


bronze, to enrich the furniture, much as the French had in the reign of Louis X V I . Not

At the same time as England's taste was being further refined, the trade from both

only that, the rare woods had become

East and West was bringing to the

harder to obtain as delivery was so

workshops of artists and furniture designers

uncertain with the battling English and

an amazing variety of exotic woods that

French fleets causing havoc with sea trade.

had never been seen before. These included

Although now at war, the English

woods with such extraordinary names as

aristocracy had never failed to be impressed

calamander, zebrawood, rosewood,

by French taste which had continued to

satinwood and many varieties of ebony.

influence English design through the 18th

This coincided with the invention by Sir

century. This culminated in an explosion of

Samuel Bentham in 1 7 9 1 of a mechanical

classical fervour after the publication in the

planing machine. Originally designed for

final year of the 18th century of an

use by convicts, it soon became apparent

ambitious volume of designs by two French

that the finest veneers could be finished to

architects, Pierre Franois Fountaine and

enhance the colour and grain of these

Charles Percier, which later became the

woods and the larger workshops made full

foundation stone of new classical projects,

use of its potential. Furthermore many

now known as Empire, which flourished

pieces were enriched with ormolu mounts

under Napoleon.

which in combination with the glamour of

England, however, had their own

rare woods created pieces portraying

classical champion in the later years of the

extreme luxury. This came about partly as an indirect result of the escalating wars with Napoleon. The cost of living in England had


A Desgodetz, Edifice Antiques de Rome,

been pushed to almost double between


reign of George III in the form of Robert Adam, the Scottish architect who would revolutionise fashion between 1 7 7 0 and

rrc T- - ^ t r ^ x T rsrz








T h e Age of M a t t h e w Boulton - M a s t e r p i e c e s of Neo-Classicism

1790 a n d w h o s e i n f l u e n c e w o u l d c o n t i n u e

The Ruins

t h r o u g h m a n y revivals until t h e 1 9 3 0 ' s .

t h a t t h e t r u e style of t h e a n c i e n t s c o u l d be

of Palmyra

by R o b e r t W o o d

O n his r e t u r n t o L o n d o n he e s t a b l i s h e d himself w i t h his b r o t h e r J a m e s a n d m a d e

The topographical watercolourist Thomas

f o u n d in I m p e r i a l R o m e a n d n o t P a l l a d i o

full use of his earlier i n f l u e n t i a l c o n t a c t s

M a l t o n w r o t e in 1 7 9 2 : ' t h e M e s s r s

a n d later Italian a r c h i t e c t s . O n l y a year

t o p r o m o t e his ideas. W i t h t h e h e l p of

A d a m s , f o u r b r o t h e r s , by w h o s e l a b o u r s

a f t e r this p u b l i c a t i o n A d a m , aged t w e n t y -

these p a r t i e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y L o r d M a n s f i e l d

G r e a t Britain h a s been e m b e l l i s h e d w i t h

six, w a s invited t o a c c o m p a n y L o r d H o p e

a n d L o r d Bute, he w a s a p p o i n t e d

m a n y edifices of d i s t i n g u i s h e d excellence.

o n his o w n g r a n d t o u r w h i c h w a s t o be

A r c h i t e c t of t h e King's W o r k s a n d f r o m

T o t h e i r r e s e a r c h e s a m o n g t h e vestiges of

t h e b e g i n n i n g of his a m b i t i o n s . Q u i c k l y

this p o i n t o n his c o m m i s s i o n s c a m e in

antiquity we are indebted for m a n y

p u t off by his n o b l e c o m p a n i o n ' s less t h a n

w i t h ever i n c r e a s i n g s p e e d . W i t h his

i m p r o v e m e n t s in o r n a m e n t a l a r c h i t e c t u r e ;

s a v o u r y p u r s u i t s , he d e c i d e d t o d e v o t e

irrepressible e n t h u s i a s m a n d a p p e t i t e f o r

a n d f o r t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n of a style of

himself t o s t u d y a n d d e v e l o p e d his

w o r k a n e n o r m o u s n u m b e r of h o u s e s w e r e

decoration, unrivalled for elegance and

p a s s i o n f o r classical design o v e r t h e

e i t h e r c o m p l e t e l y r e - m o d e l l e d or, in t h e

gaiety; w h i c h in spite of t h e i n n o v a t i o n s of

f o l l o w i n g f o u r years of travel. It w a s

cases of such m a g n i f i c e n t h o u s e s as Syon

f a s h i o n , will prevail as l o n g as g o o d t a s t e

d u r i n g t h e s e years t h a t he m e t m a n y

a n d Osterley, built f r o m t h e g r o u n d u p . By

exists in t h e n a t i o n . ' Initially i n f l u e n c e d by

e n l i g h t e n e d classical e n t h u s i a s t s a n d n o

t h e t i m e of his d e a t h in 1 7 9 2 a l m o s t every

t h e f l o w i n g a n d n a t u r a l i s t i c f o r m s of t h e

d o u b t w a s g r e a t l y s t i m u l a t e d by these

a s p e c t of a r c h i t e c t u r e a n d i n t e r i o r design

r o c o c o w h i c h h a d tried t o r e - c r e a t e ' t h e

c o n t a c t s w h o i n c l u d e d Sir W i l l i a m

h a d been i n f l u e n c e d by R o b e r t A d a m ,

p u r e spirit of t h e a n c i e n t s ' a n d h a d g r o w n

C h a m b e r s , the painter P o m p e o Batoni,

f r o m t h e g r a n d e s t b u i l d i n g t o t h e smallest

f r o m t h e strict f o r m of Palladio's i n f l u e n c e ,

t h e French a r c h i t e c t s Peyre a n d D e p r o u x ,

d o o r lock, a legacy still e n g e n d e r i n g b o t h a d m i r a t i o n a n d a w e f r o m t h e h u n d r e d s of

R o b e r t A d a m h a d a n e w vision of

t h e d r a u g h t s m a n Clerisseau a n d a n o t h e r

a r c h i t e c t u r e a n d design, t h e neo-classical.

a r t i s t M e n g s a n d his s t u d e n t , a f e l l o w

t h o u s a n d s of visitors t o Britain's g r e a t

It w a s t h r o u g h t h e p u b l i c a t i o n in 1 7 5 4 of

Scot, G a v i n H a m i l t o n .

c o u n t r y h o u s e s every year.

Left: Detail of R{)f>crt A d a m ' s desij;n for the Keatc coin cabinet (see page 30). R e p r o d u c e d by courtesy of Sir J o h n Soane's M u s e u m , L o n d o n . Right: Robert


attributed t o George Willison. R e p r o d u c e d by courtesy of the N a t i o n a l Portrait (iallery, L o n d o n .



m: m-

T H E R O S E B E R Y DESK Attributed

to May hew & Ince

A highly important George III roll-top desk inlaid throughout with superb marquetry of neo-classical design, the tambour top with satinwood and yewwood bands, divided by tulipwood stringing and inlaid with boxwood waved lines and spots, with a shaped gilt metal handle opening to reveal an inset leather writing surface with gilt tooling and a series of pigeon holes in satinwood and small drawers in burr yew, flanking a central cupboard door of mahogany with classical painted decoration depicting a young girl with a garland of flowers within a laurel border, flanked by satinwood and ebony panels of geometric form also with floral decoration; all above a single drawer in the frieze with an ebony veneered foliate marquetry tablet between

ring-pull handles on a square burr maple background, inset from two larger panels of partridgewood with boxwood and penwork griffins, all below a Greek key pattern border; the sides in satinwood with marquetry of a classical urn and entwining foliate and floral decoration within a floral border, above a band of partridgewood with bold boxwood acanthus and penwork, supported on four square tapering satinwood legs, fluted and with shark's tooth marquetry and partridgewood banding, with gilded ormolu enrichments throughout. English, circa 1775 Height: 36/2 in / 93 cm Width: 2,1% in / 83 cm Depth: 25/4 in / 64 cm


Archibald, 5th Earl Rosebery 1847-1929 and Hannah de Rothschild (1851-1890); By descent to his eldest daughter. Lady Sybil Grant, wife of Lt Gen Sir Robert Grant KCVO at The Durdans, Epsom, Surrey; By whom sold Knight Frank & Rutley, Hanover Rooms, London, 9th March 1956; Norman Adams Ltd, London to whom sold, 27th March 1956; Private collection, Toronto, Canada until 1989. LITERATURE

Lucy Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, The Lady Lever Art Gallery, HMSO, 1992, p 229, fig 215 Clifford Musgrave, Adam and Hepplewhite Furniture, Faber, 1966

The Rosebery desk 15

R W Symonds, Inlaid classical


in the


Style, Connoisseur, June 1 9 5 6 ,

2 0 St James's Square, London, for the Welsh aristocrat, Sir William Wynn, Kedleston

pp 2 4 - 9 , fig 3-5; republished Connoisseur,

Hall, Derbyshire, for Sir Nathaniel Curzon


and Osterley Park, Middlesex, for the


corresponded with John Linnell, Thomas

On loan to the Metropolitan Museum,

Chippendale and Mayhew & Ince, to whom

New York, until 2 0 0 0

this extraordinary piece is attributed.

banker Sir Robert Child. Adam

This desk ranks as one of the most


exquisite examples of late 18th century

The prime provenance has not as yet been


English furniture, exemplifying a cultural

established. However, in 1 9 5 6 this desk was

elite's passion for highly refined neo-

sold from the collection of the late Lady

classical derived ornament and design.

Sybil Grant, the wife of Lt Gen Sir Robert

This taste was championed by the leading

Grant KCVO. Lady Sybil was the eldest

designers and architects of their day led by

daughter of the statesman Archibald, 5th

Robert Adam and William Chambers.

Earl of Rosebery, and his wife Hannah, the

In the closing decades of the 18th

sole heiress of Baron Meyer de Rothschild.

century England was at the height of her

In 1 8 7 8 Rosebery had married Hannah and

economic and cultural powers. The new

she had brought with her her father's

found confidence of English craftsmen had

legendary collection of magnificent European

allowed England for the first time to

pictures and furniture housed at Mentmore,

create her own highly sophisticated

his Buckinghamshire seat. Hannah took a

domestic style which was to be widely

passionate interest in her father's collection

admired and emulated, even by the French

and documented it meticulously. She

from whom England traditionally turned

presented her husband with an admirable

to for cultural inspiration.

catalogue with the words 'In time to come,

The work of William Chambers and Robert Adam, who introduced his works

when, like all collections this will be dispersed (and I hope this will be long after

through his 1 7 7 3 publication, relied heavily

my death) this book may be of value'. Only

on the designs and ornament of Ancient

fifty copies were published privately that

Rome. The engraved designs fuelled a craze

Hannah inscribed and presented to friends

for the English passion for Roman classical

and members of her family. The contents of

grandeur and imposing order. As a result of

this catalogue became the core of the

the popularity of the Grand Tour, young

collection to which Hannah and her husband

noble Englishmen would return from their

began to add significantly during a

travels wanting to transform their out-

remarkable period of collecting.

moded London houses and country seats into temples of culture and luxury to reflect

The late 19th century saw many of the great English families being allowed for the

the classical architecture and ornament they

first time to sell part of their collections as

had studied.

the agricultural depression of t h e l 8 7 0 ' s and

This desire for classical proportion, function and design was extended from

1880's took its toll and land prices collapsed. The famous collections formed during the

architecture to decoration. All these

18th century began to be broken up as the

elements are combined in this desk to create

law of entail, which prevented the divorcing

one of the most refined pieces of Adam

of the contents from the great houses, was

period furniture. Robert Adam had

reformed, easing their sale. The Rosebery's

collaborated with the top cabinet-makers of

took advantage of the dispersal of these

his day to ensure the furniture and

collections and consulted the leading experts

architectural detailing was co-ordinated to

and dealers of the day who acted as their

produce a unified interior. This

agents, discreetly buying privately on their

extraordinary attention to overall detail

behalf or at the increasing number of sales.

was achieved in his interiors found at

The famous sales of the Duke of Hamilton

16 The Rosebery desk



The roll top desk attributed to Mayhew and Ince at Syon House, Middlesex. Reproduced by kind permission of His Grace the Duke of Northumberland.

in 1882, the Duke of Marlborough in 1886, the Earl of Lonsdale in 1887 and the Marquess of Exeter in 1888 presented some extraordinary opportunities which the Rosebery's, unaffected by the financial depression, seized. It is probably at this time that this desk was acquired for either M e n t m o r e or for Lord Rosebery's favourite house. The Durdans, near Epsom racecourse where he famously realised one of his ambitions when he w o n The Derby in 1894. Lord Rosebery had bought The Durdans in 1874 and left it on his death in 1929 to his daughter. Lady Sybil. Lady Sybil it appears did not share her parents' passion for collecting and controversially sold her father's famous library in 1933. She consolidated the collection and removed the t w o Victorian wings with their thirty bedrooms which her father had added. Lady Sybil led an unconventional life and befriended the gypsies w h o frequented the nearby racecourse, exchanging the comfort of The Durdans for a gypsy caravan in the surrounding woods. The desk remained at the house until it was sold in 1956. THE ATTRIBUTION TO M A Y H E W & INCE

The Rosebery desk was almost certainly made by the extremely fashionable cabinet makers M a y h e w & Ince w h o supplied many of the great collectors of their day and ranked the King, the Duke of Manchester, the Earl of Coventry, the Earl of Kerry among their distinguished aristocratic clients. They advertised themselves as 'Cabinet makers, upholders, undertakers. Carvers, Gilders & Manufacturers of plate Glass at the Warehouses Broad Street, Soho'. O n e of the firm's most valued clients was the 4th Duke of Marlborough and the firm's famous and influential publication The Universal System for Household Furniture of 1762 was dedicated to him. Marlborough had engaged Sir William Chambers to remodel and furnish their private apartments in the east wing of his seat Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Mayhew &: Ince had already supplied pieces to the Duchess' family at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire and it is most probably through this link that the firm was

18 The Rosebery desk

The Rosebery desk 19

granted commissions at Blenheim. Recently discovered bills from Mayhew & Ince survive in the Blenheim papers' dated 25th June 1789 and in the steward's daybook^ of 'Furniture that came to Blenheim', 1773c l 7 9 3 a tantalising mention is made in 1787 to 'a secretary for Duke's dressing room'. Sadly much of Chambers' original scheme has been removed and the furniture dispersed. Two similar desks of this model attributed to Mayhew & Ince are recorded. One remains in a private collection' and the other belongs to the collection of the Duke of Northumberland at Syon House, Middlesex (see page 18). Mayhew & Ince certainly supplied furniture to the Northumberlands although no reference is made to this desk until the 1786 inventory at Northumberland House. The similarity of rich inlays and form demonstrates the stylistic characteristics of the firm and indeed certain elements are repeated on all three desks.


Huge attention to detail was lavished on the Rosebery desk. The front of the frieze drawer is carefully divided into five distinct panels. The central panel is meticulously inlaid with scrolling rinceaux against an ebony ground in the fashionable 'Etruscan' manner. The details are carefully highlighted with fine engraved penwork that remains in superb condition. There is an identical design found on the frieze tablet of another commode" also attributed to Mayhew & Ince. The drawer's central panel is bordered on either side by two small satinwood framed panels centred by

gilt lacquered ring handles with paterae back plates. These in turn are flanked by two curious inward facing inlaid wyverns against a burr maple ground. Again the use of the wyvern is found on furniture associated with Mayhew & Ince. Examples may be seen on a bureau cabinet formerly in the collection of Mr EC Wigan', a Pembroke table with Mallett' in 1956, a commode formerly with Partridge Fine Arts and a commode in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool. Burr maple does not seem to have been used by other top cabinet-makers and is increasingly associated with the firm's work, along with their painstaking neo-classical marquetry.


The desk differs further from the other two desks by its use of ormolu mounts and gilded handles. The lower edge of the drawer frieze is emphasised by a fine bay leaf repeat pattern ormolu moulding which balances the dentil inlaid frieze above. This attention to detail is extraordinary with even the original gilded screw heads being chased to match the surrounding ormolu. The foliate pierced apron mounts are carefully designed with arabesques reflecting those of the marquetry of the panels above. Ormolu mounts are rarely found on any but the grandest pieces of English furniture of this period. The use of mounts was usually associated with French furniture. However, cabinet-makers such as the French emigre Pierre Langlois, working in London in the 1760's, had begun to incorporate them in the design of his heavily French influenced pieces. The

Interestingly, exactly the same design of mount appears on the central apron of the impressive commode also attributed to Mayhew & Ince and now at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool". The same distinctive marquetry scaly wyverns found on the drawer front of the desk reappear with unfurled tails below the painted medallion of the central door of the commode. Above all, this magnificent desk represents a peak of neo-classical furniture design and execution during a period regarded as the 'Golden Age' of English furniture.

Blenheim Papers, British Library, London MSS Add

Ormolu - The Work of Matthew

6 1 6 7 8 ff.136,138.

Boulton & Fothergill correspondence with Mayhew & Ince,

Blenheim Papers, Oxon.

Assay Office, Birmingham.

Exhibited C.I.N.O.A. International Art Treasures

Boulton & Fothergill to William Ince, 3rd December 1774,

Exhibition, Victoria & Albert Museum 1962 no 97 by Quinney's Ltd, Chester.

20 The Rosebery desk

English however, had little experience of making or moulu^, as it was known, until Matthew Boulton began to specialise in its manufacture in Birmingham in the 1770's. Boulton's production mainly concentrated on the manufacture of ormolu mounted vases, objects and 'toys' but he is known to have produced high quality ormolu furniture mounts for specific commissions. Boulton certainly corresponded with Mayhew & Ince", gilding and repairing ornaments for them. Significantly, when Mayhew & Ince were to make the famous Jewel Cabinet for the Duchess of Manchester, to designs of Robert Adam, it was to Boulton and Fothergill to whom they entrusted the making of the mounts in 1774'. The cost of the mounts came to the high sum of ÂŁ73 l i s Od'" but was later to be increased at the behest of Mayhew & Ince. Considering the collaboration of the two firms it is tempting to attribute the mounts of the desk to Boulton, as this desk would have ranked as one of Mayhew & Ince's most important commissions.


N Goodison 1974.

Assay Office, Birmingham. ' Boulton & Fothergill to Mayhew & Ince, 16th October

Private collection, London.

1775, Assay Office, Birmingham.

C;hristie's, London, lot 108, 27 November 1980.

Wood, Lucy, The Lady Lever Art Gallery Catalogue

Country Life, November 1956, p i 0 2 6 .



H.MSO, 1994 p No 27 pp 226, Plate 29.



T H E APSLEY H O U S E T O R C H E R E S By Robert


A pair of George III giltwood and gesso torcheres and candelabra by Robert Adam (1728-1792), the triangular plinth on claw feet, the concave sides with oval medallions depicting young girls in classical dress playing musical instruments, the top edge with arched foliate decoration, the corners with stylised acanthus topped with ram's heads, all supporting a turned circular column decorated at the base with oval paterae and harebell swags, the centre with fluting and acanthus carving with a small guilloche band, the top with further fluting and decoration, edged with Vitruvian scrolling, each supporting a candelabrum in the form of seated griffins below four candle arms, centred by a classical urn with guilloche band and a fifth candle holder. English, circa 1780 Height of torchere: 47% in / 121 cm Overall height with candelabra: 64Vi in / 164 cm Diameter of top: 13 in / 33 cm Width across feet: in / 40 cm

PROVENANCE Designed and supplied by Robert Adam to Henry, Lord Apsley, later 2nd Earl Bathurst (1714-1794) for Apsley House, London in circa 1778. These magnificent torcheres are a pair from an important set designed and supplied by the greatest neo-classical British architect, Robert Adam, to Henry, Lord Apsley, later 2nd Earl Bathurst for Apsley House, London. Adam proudly oversaw the entire building, decoration and furnishing of what was one of his most important private commissions. The house was later sold by Lord Bathurst's son to the Marquess Wellesley in 1805, who in turn sold it twelve years later to his famous younger brother, Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), victor over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Apsley House, built on the site of an old entrance lodge to Hyde Park, was commissioned by Lord Bathurst from Robert Adam who was employed there from 1771 to 1778 whilst the earl was Lord Chancellor. Adam's original drawings"

22 The Apsley House torcheres

Design by Robert Adam for the torcheres. Reproduced by courtesy of Sir John Soane's Museum, London.



m i •= t J

24 The Apsley House torcheres


show that the interiors were decorated in a refined neo-classical manner in the style of his great project at the Adelphi. As with all his great commissions Adam gave careful consideration to the unity of the decoration with detailed attention being given to the harmonious design of the walls, ceiling and furniture in each room. These torcheres are remarkable in not only being one of the few pieces of surviving furniture confidently identified as being designed by Robert Adam for a specific location but also in retaining their original carved giltwood candelabra. Adam's actual coloured drawing, which he would have presented to Lord Bathurst, survives for these torcheres". The drawing, inscribed and dated 31 January



the torcheres placed either side 'of a glass frame for the Piers of the Great Drawing Room at Bathurst House'. The light from the crisply carved candelabra would have reflected in the pier glasses creating a magnificent effect. Adam derived the design of the torcheres from the famous 2nd century Roman candelabra from Santa Costanza" that he may have seen when he was in Rome for two years between 1 7 5 5 and 1 7 5 7 . The ancient carved marble triangular base is decorated on three sides and the angles



Detail f r o m Adam's design. R e p r o d u c e d by courtesy o f Sir J o h n Soane's M u s e u m , L o n d o n .

similarly ornamented with three ram's heads with the baluster stem surmounted by a circular shelf to hold a large oil lamp. When Apsley House was sold in 1 8 0 5 , Lord Wellesley regrettably engaged Adam's great rival James Wyatt ( 1 7 4 6 - 1 8 1 3 ) who spent two years and ÂŁ 2 0 , 0 0 0 redecorating and acquiring new furniture for the house, undoing much of Adam's original scheme and destroying The Great Drawing Room. Only two of Adam's original drawing rooms on the first floor survive with their original decoration and even James Wyatt's scheme was to be completely swept away yet again when his eldest son, Benjamin ( 1 7 7 5 - 1 8 5 0 ) , succeeded to his father's office and the project in 1 8 1 3 .

Sir J o h n Soane's M u s e u m , L o n d o n . " Sir J o h n Soane's M u s e u m , Vol 2 0 , N o 1 6 9 , ( B o x 3) " N o w in the Salei dei Candelabri H, Vatican M u s e u m , R o m e .

The Apsley House torcheres 2 5


to Thomas


A late Chippendale period neo-classical satinwood secretaire abattant, the top with tulipwood crossbanding and boxwood stringing, with a long single drawer in the frieze above a weighted fall-front and writing surface inlaid with a marquetry vase within an oval fan-shaped border, with a series of small satinwood drawers below pigeon holes surrounding a large central well, the lower section with similar inlaid vase and border, opening to reveal three graduated long drawers with ring pull handles, the whole cabinet crossbanded and inlaid with tulipwood and boxwood and supported on tapering reeded legs on block feet.

English, circa 1775 Height: 49% in / 125 cm Width: 31 in / 79 cm Depth: 16 in / 41 cm The strict proportions and neo-classical detailing of this beautiful secretaire are reminiscent of the late work of Thomas Chippendale and would appear to belong to a group believed to have been commissioned from his workshops. In around 1772 Chippendale supplied a secretaire with a marquetry dressing commode en suite to his great patron Edwin Lascelles (1712-1795) for Harewood House, Yorkshire. On 12th November

1773 a further famous example in lacquer was also supplied by Chippendale to Harewood for ÂŁ26, and was sold with the assistance of Mallett to Temple Newsam, Leeds in 1999. This was described on the invoice as a 'Lady's Secretary' with 'the front of the Secretary to rise with Ballance Weights'. A further lacquer example was supplied for Mr Robert Child's dressing room at Osterley Park House, Middlesex. These secretaires all share similarities of form and construction with the secretaire a abbatants found in France at the same time. Although the form was not widely embraced by the English patrons, it allowed the cabinet-maker to exploit the expansive

A Chippendale secretaire abattant 27

surface of the secretaire's front to display rich veneers and marquetry as shown by the H a r e w o o d House example. In this example beautiful and lustrous satinwood is used as a splendid background for the t w o meticulously inlaid central ovals with twin-handled urns framed with a fanpatterned border. The absence of any carved or gilt metal ornament only emphasises the severe neo-classical design. When first supplied the strong contrast between the various woods would have been dramatic. The very pale satinwood acted as a foil for

28 A Chippendale secretaire abattant

the dark purpleheart medallions and the tulipwood crossbanding emphasised the linearity of the piece. The attention to detail is followed through to the beautifully weighted fall front writing surface which opens to reveal a neatly fitted interior with drawers and pigeon-holes with the cupboard below containing three long drawers still bearing the original gilt lacquered handles. An almost identical secretaire of exactly these dimensions and marquetry was formerly in the collection of The H o n Lady Fry at Oare House, Wiltshire".

" Christie's Year Book, 1966.

THE KEATE COIN CABINET The stand by Robert


A pietra dura coin cabinet on a tulipwood

a moulded plinth with further foliate

T h e casket Italian, circa


and satinwood Etruscan style stand by

ormolu decoration; the stand with inset

T h e stand English, circa


R o b e r t Adam ( 1 7 2 8 - 1 7 9 2 ) , the cabinet in

classical panels in ormolu o f griffins and

Height: 3 5 in / 8 9 cm

oak with ebony veneers inset with superb

vases with foliate scrolls all on an ebony

Width: 16 i n / 4 1 cm

and colourful panels of pietra dura, the top

ground, above four square tapering legs

Depth: \3'A in / 3 3 . 5 cm

depicting a multi-coloured parrot perched on

with fluted satinwood inlay headed with

a cherry branch with fruit and leaves, with

oval floral paterae below further foliate


an inscription on the reverse

enrichments, joined at the top with ormolu

Supplied to George Keate ( 1 7 3 0 - 1 7 9 7 ) until

laurel swags and bows, and at the base

sold by his executors;

with a shaped stretcher, the front edge with

M r King, King Street, Covent Garden,

o f arched foliate design above a beaded edge,

a band o f ormolu with guilloche pattern,

London in 1 8 0 2 , lot 1 2 0 ;

the sides decorated with fruit and flowers on

supported on gilt metal fluted ovoid feet.

Private collection, USA until 1 9 9 5


Crebolans Fece Anno 1711 In Palleria di A..R,

bordered with a pierced ormolu band

3 0 T h e Keate coin cabinet


IT**-*" '.nf j^^r^ tf


Clive Wainwright,


Poet and hi

architect - George Keate and Robert


Apollo, January 1 9 9 6 , p p 3 9 - 4 4 , ill 6 - 8 . This casket-on-stand remains as one of the rarest pieces of late 18th century English furniture, designed by the most influential and famous of neo-classical architects, Robert Adam, and firmly documented with the original surviving drawings and identified patron". Much of the furniture originally designed by Adam has been dispersed or lost making this piece even more important in his surviving oeuvre. In 1 7 7 6 the Duchess of Manchester received from Robert Adam her celebrated cabinet, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum'^ designed by him for Kimbolton

Castle, to display proudly her eleven marble intarsia

panels by Baccio Capeili. The

Manchester cabinet is now recognised as one of the most important pieces of 18th

century English furniture that resulted in th collaboration of three of the masters of British neo-classical decorative design, Adam, Mayhew & Ince and Matthew Boulton. Very shortly after delivering this important commission Adam received a fascinating commission from George Keate

( 1 7 3 0 - 1 7 9 7 ) to provide a precious stand for his magnificent pietra

dura casket. It is

startling that within months of finishing the Manchester cabinet Adam was designing

another, this time on a more jewel-like scale

George Keate, the son and heir of George

Keate of Isleworth, was born at Trowbridge Wiltshire. In 1 7 5 3 he was called to the bar but he seems to have abandoned the Law and embarked on a Grand Tour in 1 7 5 4 when he was recorded living abroad in Geneva and Rome. Keate was clearly an active participant of the artistic milieu of

late 18th century society for in 1 7 6 6 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Arts as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was certainly known to Garrick, Walpole, Chute, Nollekens and Angelica Kauffman.

In the same year he married Jane Catherine, the daughter of Joseph Hudson a former Dutch Consul to Tunis. <


R o b e r t Adam's design reproduced by courtesy o f Sir J o h n Soane's M u s e u m , L o n d o n

32 The Keate coin cabinet

/ ;

It seems likely that Keate and Adam became friends during the Grand Tour as

A d a m had earlier designed the decorative frontispiece for Keate's meticulous album of

In 1777 A d a m provided a partly

had evolved from the wunderkammer

coloured drawing for a stand for a casket 1777,

of the

17th century and continued throughout the

watercolours in which he recorded his

inscribed For George Keate, Adelphi

travels. Keate's first dealings as a patron

which shows an elevation of a medal or

cabinets, the Badminton Cabinet,

with A d a m began in 1772 when he

jewel casket sitting on a richly ormolu

commissioned by the young D u k e of

commissioned him to produce drawings for

mounted stand in the most refined neo-

Beaufort in 1726, as well as the Manchester

a ceiling design" for the dining room at 8,

classical taste. It is not k n o w n if the casket

Cabinet. A more direct comparison may be

18th century with the most famous of these

Charlotte Street", Bloomsbury, L o n d o n ,

had been collected by Keate whilst in Italy

drawn with a later Florentine casket-on-

and for a pair of girandoles'". Further

in 1755 but the inlaid marble panels are of

stand"', at The Vyne, Hampshire, that

drawings for ' M i r r o r s " ' were supplied in

the highest quality and almost certainly

stands on an elaborately carved giltwood

1773 followed by more in 1777 for ceiling

originated from the G r a n d Ducal pietra

stand. The casket dating to 1740-5 was

designs for the Octagon r o o m and the

dura workshops of the Medici founded in

bought by J o h n Chute (1701-1776), a great

dressing r o o m . It is not clear if any of these

Florence in 1588 by Ferdinando I de

patron and arbiter of 18th century taste,

designs were executed as none of the

Medici. The wealthy and most sophisticated

w h o in around 1752 possibly commissioned

original ceilings or furniture remain at the

grand tourists, such as the diarist J o h n

the great FLnglish cabinet-maker W i l l i a m

house today. The friendship was to come to

Evelyn", collected these highly expensive

Vile to supply a suitable carved giltwood

an end when the ceiling in the Octagon

and elaborate panels, richly inlaid with

stand in the antique tradition. It is probable

collapsed and Keate entered into a long

semi-precious stones and marbles, and often

Keate may have k n o w n of this cabinet as

law-suit against A d a m which he lost to his

had them inset into elaborate cabinets on

contemporary correspondence indicates that

cost of ÂŁ 1 6 3 14s 4d.

their return. The tradition of such cabinets

the two collectors were acquainted. The two

The Keate coin cabinet 33

cabinets make a marvellous contrast, with the bold rococo design of Chute's cabinet on stand acting as a splendid foil to the detailed neo-classical restraint of Adam's twenty-five years later. THE DESIGN It can be no coincidence that Adam was commissioned by Keate so quickly after supplying the Manchester Cabinet. One can surmise that Adam had either alluded to the commission or Keate had learnt of it from his connections at the Royal Society. The jewel-like quality and attention to detail of the design, marquetry, proportion and neo-classical mounts is reminiscent of the exquisite small scale pieces produced at exactly the same time by the great French ebenistes such as Martin Carlin and Adam Weisweiller. Adam was certainly familiar with French furniture through his clients' collections and from his stay there during a Grand Tour in 1 7 5 4 - 5 8 . The smaller formal pieces of French furniture with their exquisite mounts might well have been his inspiration. The design, however, remains unusual for Adam as he combined the pietra dura, an art form associated with the 17th century, with that of late 18th century neoclassicism. The remarkable quality and excellent condition of the five panels used

on the four sides and lid of the casket is extraordinary. Panels tended to be made up of geometric patterns of rare marbles with the most expensive depicting pictorial images of birds, animals and townscapes. Judging by the construction of the casket it would appear that it was made in Italy possibly after the five panels had been carefully selected. T H E USE It is no longer clear whether the casket was originally fitted to house a collection of medals or jewels. However, in 1801 a mention was made by Francis Douce, the noted collecter and a neighbour, that he had bought lot 125 at Keate's sale which was a collection of 'Medal Boards made for a cabinet' for ÂŁ 7 10s. The fate of these boards is not known although the medals themselves are now at the Ashmolean Museum. Whatever the purpose, it was clearly intended to remain free standing in a central position to be admired from all sides and was possibly conceived as part of one of the decorative schemes supplied by Adam to Keate, indicated by the various designs he produced. It has been suggested that Keate proposed to use the Octagon Room as a small private museum room as was sometimes the fashion among dedicated collectors at the end of the 18th century.

' Adam drawings in Soane .Museum, London, Vol XVII no 33. Victoria and Albert Museum, London ( W 4 3 - 1 9 4 9 ) . Adam drawings in SM, Vol XII nos 115-119. Now 10, Bloomsbury Street. ' Adam drawings in SM, Vol X X nos 102-103. Adam drawings in SM, Vol X X nos 104-108. Evelyn commissioned a cabinet for his pietra dura panels to which he referred to in his diaries in 1 6 4 4 - 1 6 4 5 , sold at Christie's London in March 1977. AM Ginsti, I'ietre Dure,

34 The Keate coin cabinet

1992, p 6 9 , pi 4 4 .

The Keate coin cabinet 35




A George III harewood and satinwood

English, circa

harlequin Pembroke table, the top banded

Height: 2 8 in / 71 cm


surface with rich neo-classical details. The

throughout in satinwood and with salt and

Width open:

practical design, that allowed the form to

pepper stringing, with two inset wells with

Width closed: 17 i n / 4 3 cm

oval burr yew panels within crossbanding,

Depth: 24/2 in / 6 2 cm

in / 83 cm

cabinet-maker to inlay the expanded

be adapted for use as an embroidery or breakfast table, was even described in Jane Austen's novel Emma

the first opening to reveal a small necessaire

of 1 8 1 4 - 1 5 by the

central character when she persuades her

with fitted compartments, the satinwood

The form of the traditional Pembroke table,

lids with oval palm inset, the second lifting

reputedly first made for the Countess of

father to dine from a proper dining table

to reveal a series of small drawers for

Pembroke ( 1 7 3 7 - 1 8 3 1 ) , has been improved

instead of 'the small size Pembroke table

paints and brushes, the whole table inlaid

in this beautifully proportioned and inlaid

(he had) used for forty years'.

throughout with spot and bead marquetry

example. The form was known as early as

with oval panels of palm on the leaves,

1 7 6 6 when an example was supplied by

front and reverse, supported on square

Thomas Chippendale to Nostell Priory. The

1792 in his Drawing

tapering legs terminating in brass castors.

top with its raised sides allowed the

with its counter weights and rising boxes

Thomas Sheraton illustrates a very similar mechanised harlequin table dated Book.

The design

A Sheraton harlequin Pembroke table 3 7

may not have been a new idea as Sheraton claimed but it had 'never been offered to the public on such an improved scale'. The compartment fitted with drawers is versatile as it may be raised and lowered to the required height by a winding mechanism which Sheraton went to exhaustive lengths to explain. He proudly pointed out that the table top 'can be secured in its place by means of a stop at the bottom, so that if the whole table were turned upside d o w n the till would still keep its place.' A comparable harewood harlequin Pembroke table, illustrated in The Dictionary of English Furniture, was

38 A Sheraton harlequin Pembroke table

formerly in the collection of Mrs Denis King-Farlow" and the English country house historian, H Avray Tipping. The proportions are remarkably similar to this example, as is the design of the marquetry, suggesting that these t w o tables may have originated f r o m the same workshop. The interest in metamorphic furniture was to flourish later in the 19th century and this piece may be seen to be one of the most successful early examples.

" Illustration Apollo

Vol X X I V n o 139 July, 1936, p 14.



i i v ' i




A mahogany and satinwood ladies' writing or work cabinet attributed to Seddon, Sons &C Shackleton, the superstructure with turned ebony finials at each corner, above a fall front decorated with a semi-elliptical rosewood band inlaid with boxwood in a dentil pattern, opening to reveal a series of nine small drawers above a single long drawer, all faced in satinwood and with ivory handles, the sides with a spindle gallery border flanking a quarter-elliptical return, above a single drawer in the frieze opening to reveal a writing slide fitted with a hidden compartment for quills and ink, the drawer front with a central tablet inlaid with a satinwood lozenge repeated at each side, supported on circular tapering legs joined by a shaped shelf stretcher, the cabinet and stand inlaid throughout with boxwood and ebony stringing . English, circa 1780 Height: 4 3 in / 90 cm Width: 2 7 in / 6 9 cm Depth: 15% in / 3 9 cm LITERATURE

Christopher Gilbert, Seddon, Sons &


Journal of Furniture History Society, 1 9 9 7

This highly unusual cabinet is one of a series of pieces thought to be made by Seddon, Sons & Shackleton in the 1780's as ladies' writing and work tables, all bearing very similar features of a superstructure with inlaid fall front above small drawers partially surrounded by a spindle gallery and decorated with lozenge motifs and geometric or Greek key inlay. One particular desk in the Metropolitan Museum in New York varies very slightly, having a painted front, but otherwise shares the same characteristics. Although no documentary evidence is known at this time for desks such as this, strong stylistic comparisons can be made to support the attribution. The ladies' dressing table in the Metropolitan Museum bears the label Seddon, Sons & Shackleton LONDON engraved on an ivory tablet and a further writing table in the Victoria and Albert Museum is inscribed July 17. 1794/no 4402/ Seddons & Co. The firm of Seddon was set up by George Seddon in London in about 1750, while in his early twenties, in Aldersgate Street and seems to have flourished almost immediately. He continued to employ extra

craftsmen at a considerable rate eventually totalling almost four hundred people by 1786. In 1785 George encouraged his two sons, Thomas and George II, to become partners in the firm and they were all joined in 1790 by his son-in-law Thomas Shackleton. This partnership prospered until George Seddon died in 1801 when the inevitable family squabbles regarding all his children's inheritance came about, alongside accusations of mismanagement. The business continued, however, although not in the same form or with the same success, until the 1860's. It seems that the strength of the business lay very much in the grasp of the founder who eventually saw his workshops grow to be one of the largest in the late 18th century, when he was noted by the diarist Sophie Von La Roche as 'a man of genius, who understands the requirements of both the needy and the affluent, and knows how to please them with the products of nature and of other manufactories' artistry; who has made himself master of the qualities of wood from all parts of the world ... and the creative talent to keep on devising new forms.'

A ladies' writing cabinet 41


A pair of carved mahogany armchairs, the concave oval backs of pierced anthemion design within a carved laurel border, the out-swept arms with acanthus elbow supports headed with floral paterae, the uprights and seat rail also with laurel carving, supported on circular tapering and fluted legs headed by floral paterae above further acanthus decoration and terminating in stylised laurel toes. English, circa 1775 Height: 36 in / 92 cm Width: 24 in / 61 cm Depth of seat: 19 in / 49 cm

42 A pair of anthemion back armchairs


On loan to Kenwood House, London until 2000. LITERATURE

Christopher Claxton Stevens and Stewart Whittington, The Norman Adams Collection, 1983, p 72, pi 9 Herbert Cescinsky, The Old World House, 1924, vol II, p 249 Lanto Synge, Mallett Millenium, p 121, pi 134


This very finely executed pair of chairs is normally associated with the influence of

George Hepplewhite, whose fame is largely due to the publication shortly after his death of a volume of furniture designs entitled The Cabinet-maker and Upholsterer's Guide drawings by A Hepplewhite & Co, CabinetMaker in 1788, released and edited by his wife, Alice. Interestingly a design for a single chair relating strongly to this form was published by the famous north country firm of Gillow, which allows for some speculation as to whether he was apprenticed to or cooperated with them on this and perhaps other designs. There are some similarities in both their sketch and pattern books that would seem to indicate a relationship.


A pair of carved mahogany armchairs, the concave oval backs of pierced anthemion design within a carved laurel border, the out-swept arms with acanthus elbow supports headed with floral paterae, the uprights and seat rail also with laurel carving, supported on circular tapering and fluted legs headed by floral paterae above further acanthus decoration and terminating in stylised laurel toes. English, circa 1775 Height: 36 in / 92 cm Width: 24 in / 61 cm Depth of seat: 19 in / 49 cm

42 A pair of anthemion back armchairs


On loan to Kenwood House, London until 2000. LITERATURE

Christopher Claxton Stevens and Stewart Whittington, The Norman Adams Collection, 1983, p 72, pi 9 Herbert Cescinsky, The Old World House, 1924, vol II, p 249 Lanto Synge, Mallett Millenium, 1999, p 121, pi 134 This very finely executed pair of chairs is normally associated with the influence of

George Hepplewhite, whose fame is largely due to the publication shortly after his dea of a volume of furniture designs entitled Th Cabinet-maker and Upholsterer's Guide drawings by A Hepplewhite & Co, Cabine Maker in 1788, released and edited by his wife, Alice. Interestingly a design for a sing chair relating strongly to this form was published by the famous north country firm of Gillow, which allows for some speculati as to whether he was apprenticed to or cooperated with them on this and perhaps other designs. There are some similarities in both their sketch and pattern books that would seem to indicate a relationship.



i-^'- -^- "a is

B A C C H A N A L I A N VASE Matthew


An important and rare urn shaped white


marble vase, having a pierced removable

T h e Fermor-Hesketh collection

lid, mounted with an acorn finial, inset in a

T h e collection of Edward Sarofim

gadrooned rim with a turned tapering cylindrical body mounted with classical


figures including Mercury giving the infant

Nicholas Goodison, Matthew

Bacchus to Ino, beneath fruiting vines, with


a pierced gadrooned base, raised on a

pp 1 8 2 - 7


Vase, Connoisseur, July 1 9 7 7 ,

circular laurel cast stem and square plinth. Based on the famous Gaeta antique vase English, circa

created by the ancient Greek sculptor


Salpion, M a t t h e w Boulton adapted this

Height: 1574 in / 4 0 cm Width: 6Va in / 1 7 cm

form for use as a sumptuous and

Base: S'A x 3/2 in / 9 x 9 cm

ornamental perfume burner. T h e original.

% \

m^ m i

Design from Boulton and Fothergill's Pattern Book

/, p 171.

Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

Bacchanalian vase 4 5

until its removal in 1805, acted as a baptismal font in the Cathedral at Gaeta, Italy, and is now in the National Museum in Naples. The form may have been known to Boulton through bronze versions" made by Giacomo and Giovanni Zoffoli" working in Rome in the latter half of the 18th century. These vases were avidly collected by the English Grand Tourists, who included some of the firm's clients. Boulton adapted the form in his copy, omitting the handles and inserting in the frieze a figure of a boy blowing a horn and on the reverse substituted the tambourine playing maenad and youth with a draped female figure with an outstretched arm and a youth bearing a vase. Boulton, always keen to exploit the seemingly insatiable demand for antique ornament typified by the vase, urged his friends, who included Josiah Wedgwood and John Flaxman, to send new patterns and models for inspiration. The firm's pattern book shows a design for this model'* (page 45) without the pierced cover, which may indicate that the original intention was to have been for the manufacture of ornamental vases, later adapted to a perfume burner form. Between 1770 and 1775 Boulton supplied a vase of this model, along with other ornaments, to the Duke of Northumberland and this now remains at Syon House, Middlesex''. A further two were also offered by Boulton at Christie and Ansell's sale of 16 May 1778 with a reserve of ÂŁ14 6s Od. The catalogue entry described the scene from Ovid's Metamorphosis as 'Mercury delivering the infant Bacchus to the care of Ino' and was intended to 'turn round upon a swivel for the convenience of viewing the bas relief. A further example was invoiced to Lord Stormont for ÂŁ16 16s Od as an 'ormoulu Bacchanalian vase' in 1783.

" Torrie collection, University of Edingburgh. Crtacomo Z o f f o l i c l 7 3 1 - 1 7 8 5 . Giovanni Zoffoli cl 7 4 5 - 1 8 0 5 . " Pattern


J, p 171.

N G o o d i s o n , Matthew Connoisseur,

46 Bacchanalian vase



]u\y 1977, ill p 182.


Bacchanalian vase 4 7

VENUS Matthew



A Venus vase clock, the vase with

of Adonis, in marble and or moulu, on the

removable lid surmounted by an acorn

the pedestal is a medalian (sic) of his death,

finial and acanthus leaves above a window

and on the urn is the following inscription:

in the frieze with two rotating bands of numerals showing the time, the body of the vase with a Greek inscription and laurel engraving, on a fluted stem supported by a white pedestal with a medallion showing the death of Adonis, flanked by a

Al A i Tav


Ajtaj>tETO Ka^bg ' A'Swvig The clock-case's allegorical subject

distraught Venus and Cupid extinguishing

shows Venus, the goddess of love mourning

the flame of love, with doves of peace and

before the monument to her lover Adonis,

bow and quiver, all on a sienna marble

whose death, when killed by a wild boar, is

stepped plinth.

depicted on the medallion at the base. Venus is joined by a weeping Cupid who

English, circa

extinguishes the torch of life whilst his bow


The torch and possibly the medallion and

and quiver lie scattered at the steps to the

sienna plinth later replacements.

monument. The strong neo-classical design

Height: ll'/i m I 2 9 cm

of the clock may be compared closely to a


sketch in the Pattern

x (,VA in / 17.5 x 17.5 cm


2, p 1 7 1 . As has

already been mentioned, Boulton clearly

Design from Bciulton and Fothergill's Pattern Book


saw the versatility of the design as he toyed

Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

LA Hart Esq

with the idea of adapting the same figures of Venus and Cupid to adorn the model of an obelisk clock.

LITERATURE Nicholas Goodison, Ormolu, Matthew


the Work


Phaidon, 1 9 7 4 , p 127,

ill 4 4

from contemporary French clock-makers

Nicholas Goodison, Matthew Allegorical

In keeping with the French taste, the horizontal movement of the clock is derived



Connoisseur, February

1 9 7 3 , pp 106-111

with the time being indicated by two revolving silvered rings. John Whitehurst of Derby appears to have been responsible for supplying some of these movements. This is

Boulton's imaginative 'Venus' clock-case

confirmed in a surviving letter of April

combined the popular vase form with

1 7 7 2 between Boulton and Fothergill and

classical figures sculpted in ormolu in direct

John Whitehurst who chide him for

imitation of French clocks. This model

cancelled orders due to his sloth in

proved to be one of Boulton's most

delivering movements ordered for the

successful objects. The popularity of the

'Venus' clock-cases.

model was secured when George III, who

Despite these delays the model was

was fascinated by clocks, purchased an

clearly a huge success as Josiah

example in 1 7 7 2 for ÂŁ 2 1 followed by one

Wedgwood wrote to his partner in 1 7 7 6

by the King of Spain in the same year.

after a visit to Soho asking him to

The versatile design of the 'Venus' vase

'remember a poor Venus weeping over the

allowed it to be adapted to either a clock or

tomb of Adonis - a time piece. How many

perfume burner, modifying the lid and vase

would you imagine they have sold of the

rim accordingly. The model first seems to

single group? 2 0 0 at 2 5 guineas each

have appeared when three examples were

including the watch!' Boulton, forever the

offered in the speculative sale of 1771 by

publicist, probably exaggerated these

Christie and Ansell and two of these

figures to Wedgwood, however the

examples were described as: 'An horizontal

demand for this model was clearly among

time piece representing Venus at the Tomb

the strongest for all his clocks.

4 8 Venus clock

I, p 17



A r

——^—• —



VENUS P E R F U M E B U R N E R Matthew


A Venus vase perfume burner, the white marble plinth supporting an ormolu enriched pedestal with medallion showing the death of Adonis below an ormolu perfume burner enriched with foliate decoration, the pierced lid with acorn finial, the stepped plinth with a distraught Venus and tearful Cupid extinguishing the flame of love with t w o small doves of peace, one perched on a quiver of arrows. English, circa 1771 Height: \ V/i m 1 1 9 cm Base: X 6% in / 17.5 x 17.5 cm

This beautiful vase was intended as a perfume burner and is the same model from which the 'Venus' clock was so successfully adapted. The pierced lid of the vase encloses a gilded copper interior that would have taken a small smouldering pastille or tablet of incense that would fill the interior with rich scent in imitation of the Ancient Romans. This particular example closely follows Christie and Ansell's description of t w o 'Venus' vases in the 1771 sale where they are described as: 'Venus at the Tomb of Adonis in statuary marble and or moulu, on the dye

of the pedestal is a medalian (sic) of his death, and upon it an urn lined with silver and perferated for essence, and may be occasionally used as a lamp.' A perfume burner of this form was bought at the sale by one of Boulton's most loyal patrons, the Earl of Kerry, for ÂŁ 1 7 17s Od and another was also bought by either Lord or Lady Melbourne for ÂŁ21. The design appears to have carried on being produced as late as 1780 when the Earl of Chesterfield bought '1 Venus or moulu essence vase white marble no 108'.

Venus perfume burner 51

r .

E M P E R O R C A N D L E VASES Matthew


A rare pair of ormolu and blue john candle vases, the classical urn decorated with a guilloche band and ribbon bows joined by laurel swags, the socle with emerging foliage with a laurel band, supported on a blue john pedestal cornered with ram's heads, with further laurel swags and ribbon bows surrounding a medallion of a Roman emperor on each side, all on a stepped base.

English, circa 1780 Height: 10'/4in/27cm Base: 4!/2 x 4/2 in / 11.5 x 11.5 cm The design of these candle vases may be related to Boulton and Fothergill's design that shows a plinth with the corners headed by ram's heads linking a suspended empty ribbon tied cartouche. The upper vase varies from the drawing as it dispenses with the finial, arms and

swags, perhaps in order to display to greater effect the rare beautiful variegated blue john possibly from the same piece as the pair of 'Weston Park' model perfume burners from this collection (see page 62). The cartouches are ornamented with medallions of Roman Emperors inspired from ancient carved gemstone examples and later popularised by James Tassie in the latter half of the 18th century for the Grand Tour market.


i . Design from Boulton and Fothergill's Pattern


I, p 171.

Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

Emperor candle vases 53

54 Emperor candle vases

Emperor candle vases 55

â&#x20AC;˘ A L A R G E PAIR OF BLUE J O H N P E R F U M E B U R N E R S Matthew


A large pair of ormolu mounted perfume burners, the ovoid bodies in beautifully veined blue john, surmounted by a pierced lid with pineapple finial, hung with wreaths and issuing from acanthus leaves, with scrolled acanthus handles at either side, raised on fluted plinth with square base. English, circa 1770 Height: 12 in / 30.05 cm Width: 5% in / 14.5 cm Depth: 3/2 in / 9 cm These exceedingly handsome blue john mounted vase perfume burners incorporate

Design from Boulton and Fothcrgill's Pattern

two magnificent specimens of blue john with rich purple veining. The specimens would have come from Castleton in Derbyshire an area then rich with decorative stone. As early as 1768, whilst looking for rich materials to mount as objects, Boulton wrote to his friend, John Whitehurst, a local clock-maker revealing he had found a use for 'Blew John' but only 'that sort which is proper for turning into vases'. This illustrates the care with which Boulton selected individual examples of the fluorspar before having them mounted. These vases relate directly to a sketch in Boulton's pattern book and are a successful variation on the series of garniture vases.

Rook /, p 170.

Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

A large pair of blue john perfume burners 57









A magnificent ormolu and white marble table clock, the stepped plinth with pierced foliate frieze cornered with satyr masks, the pedestal with circular white enamelled dial, supporting a classical vase with an oval medallion depicting Jupiter and Juno, supported by a large scale figure of Minerva in armoured dress and enriched foliate helmet, carrying a spear in her right hand and a luxurious gold cape, partially obscuring a small owl, the shield of Medusa at her feet raised on books, opposite a seated boy holding a scroll with a Latin motto, the back of the stand with two small classical vases. English, circa 1771 Height: 18/2 i n / 4 7 cm Width: 12/2 i n / 3 2 cm Depth: 8/2 i n / 2 1 . 5 cm This magnificent and monumental clock remains one of the most ambitious pieces produced in Boulton's workshops. It was the first in a series of allegorical clock cases with which Boulton intended to rival the French clocks of the period. Boulton was keen for his pieces to appeal to a domestic

market as well as his export market and engaged the help of the Earl of Warwick and Moushin Pouskin, the Russian Ambassador, in his aims. The model for the 'Minerva' clock, would seem to have first appeared in 1771 when Lord Cathcart, the British Ambassador at the court of St Petersburg, was petitioned in a letter'" by Boulton to help with the introduction of 'British products amongst foreigners', particularly his 'ornamental furniture in metals ... from that art of gilding called Or Moulu'. Boulton had a few weeks earlier sent Lord Cathcart a selection of his best ormolu mounted objects and in his letter mentions 'three clocks now making at the manufactory of Boulton and Fothergill at Soho'. Two of the clocks were the famous 'sidereal' and 'geographical' clocks and the third, the Minerva clock, was described as follows: 'An 8 day repeating clock with an allegorical case representing Minerva pointing to the dial with one hand and with the other she is unveiling a votive case on which is enchased upon an oval medallion a representation of prudence making a libation at the shrine of time whilst a boy

Skcrch from Boulton and Hothergill's Pattern


on the other side seems reading the following inscription (which is engrav'd upon a scroll he holds in his hand) Breve et irraparabile tempus Omnibus est vita; sed famham extendere factis Hoc virtutis opus: all gilt in or moulu' (sic). Only two other examples of this clock are known. One is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New Y o r k " and the other remains in a private collection''. A sketchy design for the 'Minerva' clock case survives in the Boulton papers and clearly shows the figure of Minerva and the seated boy placed on either side of the urn. The design for the large stand that the clock appears to sit on was probably never executed possibly because it was deemed too distracting or expensive. Of the possible three clocks, one had been put up for sale in April 1771 at Christie and Ansell, however the seated boy held an inscription by Gay written in English rather than Latin. The clock was sold to a Mr Morgan for the huge sum of ÂŁ 1 7 3 5s Od. The following April a further 'Minerva' clock, possibly this very example, was put up for sale at Christie and Ansell but remained unsold. It is quite

/, p 7 6 .

R c p r o d u c c d by courtesy o f Birmingham C:ity Archives.

Minerva clock 59

conceivable that the clock was offered again in May 1778 when it was fully described as; 'An emblematic clock case representing Minerva as uncovering a votive vase, with one hand, on which is a has relief of Prudence making a libation to time, with the other hand she points to the dial, whilst the genii on the other side seems contemplating the remarkable passage from Virgil, Lib X: 'Breve et irreparabile tempus omnibus est vita: Sed famam extendere factis hoc virtutis opus.' The Latin quotation on the boy's scroll of the present clock is identical to that described on the clock in the 1778 catalogue, whilst the example mentioned to Lord Cathcart is a variation. A further clock was recorded in Boulton and Fothergill's records in 1782 said to be of marble with gilt has not so far come to light. The symbolism of the clock's figures follows the moral tales associated with the passing of time, fame, beauty and fortune. This form of memento mori had a long tradition in European culture and was the subject often alluded to in paintings and sculpture from the Renaissance onwards. Here Minerva, the goddess of Wisdom, is seen to unveil the salutary shrouded monument and points to the fleeting time as she instructs the seated child on the transience of time.

' M a t t h e w B o u l t o n t o L o r d C a t h c a r t , St P e t e r s b u r g , 3 0 t h O c t o b e r 1 7 7 1 , B o u l t o n p a p e r s in t h e B i r m i n g h a m Reference Library. The Metropolitan Museum, New York, â&#x20AC;˘ cf N G o o d i s o n , Matthew Magazine,

60 Minerva clock




s Minerva,

1 9 9 6 , p 3 9 9 ill 6 6 .


A 4


BLUE J O H N P E R F U M E B U R N E R S Matthew


quality of the particularly pale purple



bluejohn is very rare in their oeuvre. Great

An ormolu and blue john perfume burner,

A pair of ormolu and blue john perfume

attention has been paid to the finely chased

the urn-shaped vase with a bold guilloche

burners, the urn-shaped vases with a bold

ormolu giving a superb overall effect. T h e

band below a foliate pierced lid headed by

guilloche band below foliate pierced lids

form o f this pair is related to the 'Weston

an acorn finial and joined by foliate swan's

headed by acorn finials and joined by foliate

Park' model (see below), however the blue

neck handles, with fluted stem supported

swan's neck handles, with fluted stems

john replaces the white marble base whilst the

on a white marble plinth with oval paterae

supported on a circular blue john base.

ormolu paterae and swagged husks are also

and foliate swags, on a circular base.




omitted in preference for showing off the extraordinary hue of the stone. The emphasis

English, circa

Height: 9 in / 2 3 cm

is clearly placed on the importance and beauty

Height: 9 in / 2 3 cm

Width: 4/2 in / 1 1 . 5 cm

of these exceptional specimens of Derbyshire

Width: 3'/4 in / 9 . 5 cm

Diameter o f base: 3/2 in / 9 cm

fluorspar. Judging by the extraordinary quality

Diameter of base: 3/2 in / 9 cm

English, circa



of this pair one can speculate that they formed These vases are among Boulton and Fothergills' finest work and the incredible

part of a special private commission aside from the sales at Christie and Ansell.

m ^ - r i n


Blue john perfume burners 6 3



A magnificent candelabrum in the form of a

This 'Winged Figure' candle vase of

easily be adapted to be manufactured as a

fluorspar urn surmounted by a foliate cast

unusual pale Derbyshire spar conforms

vase, a perfume burner or a candelabrum.

top with pineapple finial, with t w o scrolled

closely to a sketch in Boulton and

arms issuing from winged female caryatids

Fothergill's Pattern Book I. This model

to The Prince of Wales, M r Robert Child

at either side supporting fluted sconces, the

proved to be one of Boulton's most

for Osterley and to the D u k e of

urn with a band of guilloche around the

popular designs and is first mentioned in

N o r t h u m b e r l a n d , amongst others.

centre and raised on fluted and gadrooned

the Soho records when the Earl of

stem with white marble base.

Stamford bought 'the winged vase' on a

English, circa 1772

experimented in using blue john, white

Further examples of this model were sold

visit there in 1772 for ÂŁ 1 2 12s Od. Boulton Height: XSVi 'm! 2,9 cm

Derbyshire marble and even opaque glass

W i d t h : 1 5 y 4 i n / 4 0 cm

as alternative bodies for the vases. The

Base: 4'/ x 4'/ in / 12 x 12 cm

form was designed so that the vases could

Design from Boulton and Fothergill's Pattern

Hook /, p 156

Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

64 A winged figure candelabrum






y 'I




• •

Jt-t^ u 1V •• ^ J


i - '1

A PAIR OF O R M O L U P E R F U M E B U R N E R S Matthew


A rare pair of tripod based perfume burners, each ovoid body with guiiioche banding supported by three winged female caryatids on claw feet, each dressed with stylised jewelled necklace supporting chains carrying a foliate moulded burner, on a stepped triangular plinth centred with a foliate finial. English, circa 1775 Height: 8/2 i n / 2 1 . 5 c m Base: 4% x 4'/i in / 11.5 x 11.5 cm These very well chased examples of perfume burners, or cassolettes, follow the examples lent to Boulton by one of his most important patrons, the leader of

fashion, Mrs Montagu ( 1 7 2 0 - 1 8 0 0 ) . Mrs Montagu amusingly urged for the return of her pair that Boulton had been studying 'for my friends reproach me that I do not regale their noses with fine odours after entertaining their palates with soup and ragouts. The cassolettes used to make their entry with dessert and chase away the smell of dinner'. The tripod form is based on the then recently excavated Roman artefacts found at Herculaneum and Pompeii. The altar bases were typically of this form and Boulton appropriately adapted them as perfume burners. This pair is particularly rare as the original oil burners suspended by chains still survive.

A pair of ormolu perfume burners 6 7

A PAIR OF W H I T E M A R B L E P E R F U M E B U R N E R S Matthew


A pair of white marble and ormolu mounted perfume burners with foliate cast lids, the bodies hung with wreaths and with guilloche cast scroll handles on either side terminating in ram's masks, raised on fluted stem and fluted square base with guilloche edge. English, circa 1776-8 Height: 9Vi in / 24 cm Width: 5 in / 3 cm Base: 3/2 x 3/2 in / 9 x 9 cm These fine ormolu mounted perfume burners with bacchic ram's head handles and

festooned laurel swags closely correspond to examples made with either blue john or white marble bodies. Boulton's Pattern Book illustrates a very similar model with the body colured to represent blue john, however the unblemished surface of white Derbyshire marble was also employed. A similar pair, formerly in the collection of Edward Sarofim, has spreading marble feet rather than the richly fluted bases of this pair. A further comparable pair with blue john bodies was almost certainly commissioned by Sir Edward Knatchbull for Mersham-Le-Hatch, Kent.

Design from Boulton and Fothergill's Pattern Book I, p 170 Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

68 A pair of white marble perfume burners



* SSr

C L E O P A T R A VASES Matthew


A pair o f o r m o l u m o u n t e d vase-shaped

as ' C l e o p a t r a ' vases. T h e i r s m a l l size m a d e

candlesticks, the upper part of pale

t h e m ideal f o r use o n a side t a b l e o r as p a r t

coloured blue john hung with rosettes and

of a garniture on a chimneypiece and

swags and on spiral stems, raised on square

satisfied the c r a z e for vase o r n a m e n t s .

pedestals o f aventurine with Greek key

It is u n c l e a r h o w t h i s m o d e l w a s s o

pattern at the top and standing on stepped

n a m e d but a pair o f this description w a s

bases with ball feet.

s u p p l i e d t o t h e M a r q u e s s o f R o c k i n g h a m in 1 7 7 0 f o r ÂŁ 5 1 0 s Od a n d in t h e s a m e y e a r



B o u l t o n t r i e d t o sell a n o t h e r p a i r t o t h e


H e i g h t : 8/2 in / 2 2 c m

D o w a g e r Princess of Wales. T h e y appear to

B a s e : 4Yi x 4/2 in / 1 0 . 5 x 1 0 . 5 c m

have been a p o p u l a r model as B o u l t o n

These forms of blue john and o r m o l u

Ansell sale o f 1 7 7 1 . E x a m p l e s d e c o r a t e d

candlesticks with decorated glass panels

with medallions are k n o w n from a pair

have been identified by N i c h o l a s

s u p p l i e d t o B a r o n G r o t e in t h e s a m e y e a r .

i n c l u d e d s e v e r a l p a i r s in t h e C h r i s t i e a n d


Design from Boulton and Fothergill's Pattern Book

/, p 171.

Reproduced by courtesy of Birmingham City Archives.

Cleopatra vases 71

1 U R A N I A WATCH STAND Matthew Boulton

A r a r e w a t c h s t a n d , the w h i t e m a r b l e plinth

e l e m e n t . S o m e designs include c l a s s i c a l

s u p p o r t i n g a m a r b l e o b e l i s k b a n d e d in


o r m o l u d e c o r a t e d w i t h a small e n a m e l l e d

f r o m o t h e r designs, f o r e x a m p l e t h o s e f r o m

panel illustrating NATURELS,


b e l o w a small gold p o c k e t

w a t c h by B e n j a m i n V u l l i a m y w i t h w h i t e

even re-using the principal


the 'Venus' clock. These luxurious objects w o u l d have served as e x q u i s i t e s c u l p t u r a l o r n a m e n t s o r as e l a b o r a t e c a l e n d a r c l o c k s .

enamelled face and R o m a n numerals, with

Interestingly B o u l t o n m a y have i n t e n d e d

an e n g r a v e d c o r o n e t a n d initial E o n

these o b j e c t s f o r t h e foreign m a r k e t as a

reverse, held b y a p a t i n a t e d b r o n z e figure o f

s k e t c h f o r an o b e l i s k f r o m t h e

Urania, with outstretched arms and a globe

is inscribed Empress of Russia, possibly

a t her feet.

Pattern Book

i n d i c a t i n g it w a s either a special commission or expressly for the Russian

English, circa 1778

m a r k e t . T h i s idea m a y be pursued as the


e n a m e l c a l e n d a r f o r this w a t c h s t a n d is


W i d t h : 9/2 in / 2 4 c m

i n s c r i b e d in F r e n c h , either i n d i c a t i n g its

D e p t h : 5/4 in / 1 4 . 5 c m

d e s t i n a t i o n f o r sale o r a f a s h i o n a b l e c o n c e i t

T h e o b e l i s k , with its c o n n o t a t i o n s o f the

c h o s e t o highlight the a r c h i t e c t u r a l details o f

A n c i e n t s , a p p e a l e d t o B o u l t o n a n d as early

the w a t c h stand in o r m o l u , p e r h a p s at the

as 1 7 6 8 he is k n o w n to have a c q u i r e d an

behest o f his client, whilst leaving the

e x a m p l e f r o m a D e r b y s h i r e lapidary. T h e

o f U r a n i a , t h e M u s e o f A s t r o n o m y , in

obelisk w a s a f a v o u r i t e f o r m for displaying

b r o n z e as she stands h o l d i n g her o u t s t e t c h e d

the beauty o f unusual stones a n d m i n e r a l s ,

a r m ready to h o l d the w a t c h .

for the English m a r k e t . In a n y event B o u l t o n


particularly blue j o h n o f w h i c h n u m e r o u s early 1 9 t h c e n t u r y obelisk a n d small c o l u m n


e x a m p l e s exist. B o u l t o n e n h a n c e d the b r o n z e

F a s c i n a t i n g l y t h e a s s o c i a t e d w a t c h is a

figure o f U r a n i a , t h e M u s e o f A s t r o n o m y ,

r e d i s c o v e r e d R o y a l w a t c h . T h e w a t c h is by

placing her w i t h an o u t s t r e t c h e d a r m ready

Benjamin Vulliamy who occasionally

t o h o l d a w a t c h in f r o n t o f t h e o b e l i s k . T h e present e x a m p l e c o u l d possibly be either lot 9 5 o r l o t 1 2 2 w h i c h w e r e b o t h


supplied t h e m o v e m e n t s t o s o m e o f t h e c l o c k c a s e s t h a t B o u l t o n s o l d , in p a r t i c u l a r o n e o f t h e t h r e e ' M i n e r v a ' c l o c k s (see page

u n s o l d at ÂŁ 1 7 7 s Od in t h e 1 7 7 8 C h r i s t i e

5 8 ) . Vulliamy, t h e c l o c k m a k e r t o the K i n g ,

a n d Ansell sale. T h i s m o d e l w a s d e s c r i b e d

supplied this w a t c h t o Princess E l i z a b e t h ,

in t h e c a t a l o g u e as ' A n e l e g a n t figure o f

o n e o f t h e d a u g h t e r s o f G e o r g e III. Princess

U r a n i a in b r o n z e , h o l d i n g a t i m e p i e c e

E l i z a b e t h ' s c r o w n e d c y p h e r o f an E a p p e a r s

a g a i n s t an o b e l i s k o f s t a t u a r y m a r b l e , in the

o n t h e w a t c h c a s e b u t , m o r e conclusively,

pedestal o f w h i c h is an e n a m e l l e d t a b l e t

t h e c o d e d serial n u m b e r S.X.S

shewing the equation of time'. A m o n g

t h a t it w a s supplied t o t h e Princess b y

B o u l t o n ' s s k e t c h e s are included eleven

V u l l i a m y in 1 7 9 4 , at a c o s t o f 3 5 g u i n e a s

n o w tells us

designs for ' J e w e l S t a n d s ' o r w a t c h s t a n d s

a n d this entry a p p e a r s in his r e c o r d s

w h i c h use t h e o b e l i s k as t h e principal

preserved at the R o y a l H o r o l o g i c a l Society.

Designs from Boulton and ForhergilPs Pattern Book p 77 (top) and p IS. Reproduced by courtesy of Birminjihani City Archives.

7 2 Urania watch stand




74 Urania watch stand

Urania watch stand 75

A PAIR O F C A N D E L A B R A Attributed

to Matthew


A pair of lion's mask two-branch candelabra attributed to Matthew Boulton following a design by Pierre Gouthiere (1732-1814), the foliate fluted and circular base supporting a square tapering pedestal above claw feet and headed with lion's masks above drapery swags, the candle arms of classical square pattern with foliate shoots supporting drip-pans and fluted socles centred with a classical urn with further swags and acorn finial. English, circa 1771 Height: 18 in / 46 cm Width: 12 in / 30.5 cm Diameter of base: 6/4 in / 16 cm In 1765 Boulton, perhaps whilst researching techniques of gilding, visited Paris and showed his designs to his friend

Design f r o m Boulton and FothergilPs Pattern


I, p 41.

R e p r o d u c e d by courtesy of Birmingham C^ity Archives.

76 A pair of candelabra

and French counterpart Frangois-Thomas Germain. One of these designs derived more from the transitional taste typified by the work of the great neo-classical French designer Delafosse, in the 'goiat grec'. This drawing of a single candlestick, which survives in the Pattern Book, stands out from Boulton's lighter neo-classical designs. Whatever the source Boulton mistakenly sent at the end of 1771 a pair of Myon-faced candlesticks' to the Earl of Kerry at a cost of ÂŁ18 18s Od. Later that year the Earl of Sefton bought a pair of 'lion-faced' candlesticks at the Christie and Ansell sale and Goodison suggests these may have been the same pair returned by the Earl of Kerry. Other examples were bought by Mrs Montagu in 1772 and Lord Arundell possibly acquired a pair as late as 1777 when an estimate was provided for making them.

m V



: f






A FRENCH CLOCK Mounts after Matthew


A white m a r b l e and o r m o l u French c l o c k

T h i s e l a b o r a t e 1 9 t h century c l o c k

with m o u n t s after M a t t h e w B o u l t o n , the

illustrates h o w the influence o f B o u l t o n ' s

stepped plinth with a fluted classical

designs carried on after the closure o f the

c o l u m n supporting an o r m o l u vase enriched

B i r m i n g h a m business. T h e c o m p o s i t i o n

with finely cast vines o f grapes, with satyr

t h a t includes the figures o f the weeping

handles with entwined horns, adorned with

Venus and seated putto holding the

a reclining putti e m b r a c i n g a winged dove

medallion depicting the death o f Adonis is

and holding an a r r o w t o s h o w the time

clearly derived f r o m those f o u n d on the

hand, the plinth with a tearful Venus and a

Venus vase model.

small Cupid holding an oval medallion with an extinguished torch entwined by garlands.

It is k n o w n that some o f the residual m o u n t s were sold after the closure o f the w o r k s and it is perhaps from these elements

French, 19th century Height: 14'A in / 3 7 . 5 c m Base: 7% x 7% in / 1 9 . 5 x 1 9 . 5 c m

8 0 A French clock

that the present m o u n t s are cast.

jLHiit h V j(>




(y J-

• 03

The Age of Matthew Bouhon - Masterpieces of Neo-Classicism

T W O O R N A M E N T A L C L O C K S BY V U L L I A M Y By Roger Smith

These two clocks show clearly how the style of ornamental clocks produced by the leading London clockmakers, Vulliamy & Son of 74 Pall Mall, developed during the late 18th century in response to changes in fashionable taste. It was in the early 1780's that Benjamin Vulliamy (1747-1811), King's Clockmaker and junior partner in the family firm, began to develop a range of ornamental clocks to challenge the dominance of French pieces in Society drawing rooms. Although he would certainly have known of Matthew Boulton's clocks with allegorical figures in ormolu, produced in the 1760's-70's, Vulliamy's immediate inspiration probably came from contemporary French clocks. These occasionally used biscuit porcelain figures instead of ormolu and Vulliamy seems to have preferred the cooler neo-classicism of the former. In this ambitious project, he enlisted the help of William Duesbury I and II, successive owners of the Derby porcelain factory, to try and produce large biscuit figures to rival the productions of Sevres.

Although Vulliamy himself would have been responsible for the overall design of these clocks, he employed highly talented young sculptors to model the figures. His practice was to use prize-winners from the Royal Academy Schools who, he evidently hoped, had acquired not only the necessary skills but also an understanding of the latest neo-classical taste. Once modelled, the figures were sent to Derby to be reproduced in biscuit porcelain for Vulliamy's sole use. Surviving correspondence between Vulliamy and the Derby factory shows the serious technical problems which the factory faced in producing figures of the precise size, colour and quality demanded by Vulliamy. As a result, production of the larger figures was slow and they were expensive: Vulliamy was charged 5 guineas each (later increased to 6 guineas) for them. Vulliamy's first designs for clocks with Derby biscuit figures were relatively simple, but by the mid-1780's he had developed some larger compositions using three biscuit figures (two large and one small). Only five or six of these large clocks are

known for certain to have been made: one, apparently dated 1787, was sold from the collection of the Duke of Buckingham at Stowe in 1848 (fate unknown, but its satinwood pedestal survives)"; two more (Nos 170 and 178), dating from around 1788, are in the Royal Collection; a fourth (No 236), dates from about 1791; while the fifth, dated 1785, is the clock in this exhibition. A sixth clock, seen by Sophie von La Roche when she visited Vulliamy's shop in September 1786, may possibly have been the latter, though she described the seated female figure as reading a book^\ Except for No 178, all seem to have used the same basic composition of figures, forming an allegory of time. The present clock has been described by Timothy Clifford". The date 1785, the fact that the movement is unnumbered" and the marble scroll inscribed, Design'd & Executed by B. Vulliamy (etc.), would all suggest that this was the earliest of the group to be completed. The large figures of a winged Genius and Urania holding an armillary sphere (symbolic of astronomy).

Left: Benjamin


circa 1785, by an unknown artist.

Reproduced by courtesty of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers Collection UK/Bridgeman Art Library. Right: Detail from the Astronomy clock (see page 86).


jZat^r/11 ^ r/ ^

df. r i'". r '





V."' .

The Age of Matthew Boulton - Masterpieces of Neo-Classicism

were probably inspired by engravings in Montfaucon's 'Antiquity Explained', a favourite design source for Benjamin Vulliamy, and modelled by John Deare (1759-98), Gold Medallist at the Royal Academy Schools in 1780. It was not just the biscuit figures of these clocks which were contracted out. As was normal in the London clockmaking trade, most of the various elements, including the movement, would have been made to Vulliamy's precise specifications by independent specialists, with only final adjustments being carried out in Vulliamy's own workshop. The names of these specialist craftsmen are largely unknown at this date, but the supplier of the marble components of the present clock has, unusually, inscribed his monogram ID on the back of the stepped base. This is almost certainly the mark of the statuary and mason, J Day, of Brewers Row, Westminster, who emerges as Vulliamy's main supplier of marble for clock cases etc, when the firm's earliest surviving manufacturing records begin in 1797. In his use of outworkers, Vulliamy's practice was similar to that of his French competitors, the Parisian marchandsmerciers. However, unlike many of their French counterparts, Vulliamy's clocks have movements of quality commensurate with their cases. The single-train movement of the present clock is a good example of the high quality workmanship found in Vulliamy's products. With its long, narrow plates, it was clearly made specially to fit the marble column of the case. Characteristic Vulliamy features include the use of a half dead-beat escapement, (more accurate but more difficult to make than the verge or anchor escapements commonly found in English bracket and table clocks of this period); and the small square for 'rise and fall' adjustment of the pendulum, above 12 o'clock on the dial, (neatly concealed on this clock by a removable ormolu rosette). The original price of this clock is unknown but it would have been expensive even for Vulliamy, (who was notoriously costly), and certainly well in excess of the 100 guineas which he is known to have

charged for clocks with a single large Derby biscuit figure. The second Vulliamy clock in the exhibition provides an interesting comparison. It is an example of his more modest mantel clocks with bronze or ormolu mounts in the new Empire or proto-Regency taste, which gradually supplanted the purer neo-classicism of the clocks with Derby figures from the late 1790's. It was sold to the Dowager Countess of Cork and Orrery on 16th June 1802, for 36 guineas. The white marble case is unusually shallow from front to back and shows no provision for a pendulum or 'rise and fall' adjustment (see previous clock), since it is a rare example of a Vulliamy clock-case made for a 'watch', i.e. a movement controlled by a balance and spring. The movement was apparently not included in the original sale and the present movement and hands are later replacements. Most of Vulliamy's clocks in the new taste were mounted with 'Roman' lions and eagles, but the design of this case, which was also used for two pendulum clocks, is an early example of his work in the Ancient Egyptian style, which had become fashionable following Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and Nelson's victory at the Nile in 1798. At this date, Vulliamy's use of the style was less academic than it became later, when he could draw on the scholarly work of Vivant Denon. However, he evidently remained happy with the bronze sphinxes, later using the same model on a grand inkstand which was sold to the Prince of Wales in 1810". Fortunately, the record of manufacture of this clock-case still survives", and provides not only the names of the craftsmen and suppliers involved but also their charges. They were Vulliamy's usual team of independent outworkers at this date, including Day for the marble (£6 6s Od), Houle for casting and chasing the sphinxes (£4 Os Od), and Brown for engraving the decorative metal plates (£2 7s Od). The medallions on the base, which represent three of the four Seasons, were supplied by Wedgwood at 6 shillings each.

T h e reverse side o f the A s t r o n o m y c l o c k (see page 8 6 ) . Left: A detail from the Sphinx M a n t e l c l o c k (see page 9 0 ) .

F o r these c l o c k s , see: T Clifford 'Vulliamy c l o c k s and British scultpure', Apollo,

O c t o b e r 1 9 9 0 , pp 2 2 6 - 3 7 ; also

R Smith ' B e n j a m i n Vulliamy's painted s a t i n w o o d c l o c k s and pedestals, Apollo,

J u n e 1 9 9 5 , pp 2 5 - 3 3 .

Sold Christie's, 1 3 N o v e m b e r 1 9 9 7 , lot 1 0 4 . H e r diary entry is reprinted by B H u t c h i n s o n in Antiquarian


2 0 / 1 , [Spring 1 9 9 2 ] , pp 6 6 - 6 8 .

Vulliamy clocks were engraved with their production n u m b e r from circa





By Benjamin VuUiamy

A rare white marble and Derby biscuit porcelain Astronomy clock by Benjamin Vulliamy ( 1 7 4 7 - 1 8 1 1 ) , the stepped semielliptical plinth supporting a central fluted pedestal mounted with a circular enamel dial with Roman numerals within a beaded bezel, on a square plinth signed Design'd B. Vulliamy




flanked on

the left by a large figure of a winged Genius beside an extremely ornate ormolu mounted stylised tree trunk supporting two small books and a scroll reading


and Executed by B. VULLIAMY Clock and Watch Maker to His MAJESTY, with Urania seated on the right holding an armiiiary sphere, a large astronomical telescope behind and a small naked child in front holding a sextant in his left hand. The marble inscribed twice with monogram ID. English, circa 1 7 8 5 Height: 19 i n / 4 8 cm Width: 31 in / 7 9 cm Depth: 11 in / 2 8 cm

86 An Astronomy clock

An Astronomy clock 87

88 An Astronomy clock


i if





A Regency mantel clock by Vulliamy & Son, the face with Roman numerals within a circular gilt metal beaded border inset into a white marble stepped case flanked by two bronze sphinxes supported on a black marble shelf, the frieze inset with circular Wedgwood plaques representing Spring, Harvest and Winter in the form of three cupids enacting their season and separated by rectangular brass engraved panels with concave ends. English, circa 1800 Height: 9/2 in / 24 cm Width: 18'/2in/47cm Depth: VA in / 7 cm PROVENANCE Acquired from Vulliamy by the Dowager Countess of Cork and Orrery on 16th June 1802 for 36 guineas

90 A Sphinx mantel clock

A Sphinx mantel clock 91

92 A Sphinx mantel clock

A Sphinx mantel clock 93

^ ^ ' ^ G E N C y OAVBHO AR

^"PPom decora^


paw feet.



'"PPoned on

^"Slish, area 1810 ^^'Sht of backback: 28 in/71




"iTl^'^: xr


A B O N H E U R DU J O U R Attributed

to John


He seems also to have favoured the taste

A Regency ormolu mounted rosewood


bonheur du j o u r attributed to J o h n

Simon R e d b u r n , John

M c L e a n ( 1 7 7 0 - 1 8 2 5 ) , the raised

Furniture History Society, 1 9 7 8 , vol X I V




for French design and incorporates this into much o f his furniture with the use o f gilt metal that harks back to the work o f great

superstructure with pierced galleried shelf with ring-turned finials supported on

T h i s fine quality b o n h e u r du j o u r with its

French ebenistes such as Weisweiller and

turned c o l u m n s joined by a grille, above

excellent quality gilt metal mounts and rich

Reisener in the mid 1 8 t h century.

a pair o f panelled and beaded drawers,

rosewood veneers falls into a style o f

Interestingly his trade card incorporates the

the hinged fall-front writing surface

furniture m a d e by the L o n d o n firm o f J o h n

description elegant

opening t o reveal an inset tooled leather

M c L e a n &C Son whose w o r k s h o p operated


and in various advertisements

panel, a b o v e a single panelled beaded

from premises at 5 5 Upper M a r y l e b o n e

placed in The


drawer in the frieze flanked by striated

Street in the early part o f the 19th century.

words. F o r all this there appears only one

panels on the front and side, all

M u c h influenced by the drawings o f

set o f documented a c c o u n t s for general

supported on ring-turned tapering legs

T h o m a s S h e r a t o n , M c L e a n subscribed to

furnishings, supplied to the 5th Earl o f

joined by a shaped shelf, on turned feet

Sheraton's Cabinet

Jersey for M i d d l e t o n Park, O x f o r d s h i r e , and

terminating in brass castors.

his n a m e appears in the list o f master

for his house in Berkeley Square. T h e r e is,

c a b i n e t - m a k e r s with a small w o r k table

however, a stamped table at Saltram in

described by Sheraton: 'the design ... was

Devon and another at G r i m s t h o r p e in

Height: 4 4 in / 1 1 2 c m

taken from one executed by M r M ' L e a n in

Lincolnshire. O t h e r furniture carrying his

W i d t h : 3 0 in / 7 6 cm

M a r y - l e - b o n e street, near T o t t e n h a m c o u r t

idiosyncratic style can be seen at H a r e w o o d

Depth closed: 18 in / 4 6 c m

road, w h o finishes these small articles in the

in Yorkshire and a fine large writing desk at

Depth open: 2 7 in / 6 9 c m

neatest m a n n e r ' .

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire.

English, circa



, ,,1,-111^1



in 1 8 0 3 and

PARISIAN he also includes these


A bonheur du jour 9 7



A Regency ormolu mounted secretaire cabinet by John McLean (1770-1825), the cabinet with a single drawer in the frieze with a panelled front and lion's head ring pull handles, decorated with garlands of flowers within an egg-anddart border, opening to reveal a writing surface in front of a series of small drawers and pigeon-holes, above two panelled cupboard doors with egg-anddart moulding flanked by further drops of gilt metal flowers headed by lion's masks below classical terms, supporting a superstructure of bookshelves with inset mirrored glass back, pierced geometric

98 A secretaire cabinet

brass sides below a pierced gallery, all supported on turned parcel gilt feet. English, circa 1810 Height: 59 in / 150 cm Width: 37 in / 94 cm Depth: UYi in / 37 cm In the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum there is another secretaire of this model, also in rosewood and with the same gilt brass mounts - only the finials vary which bears the trade label of John McLean of Upper Marylebone Street. (See The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol I, p 59, fig 82)

J/1 "3 »



•iJ \ ^ 41 • i'




A W R I T I N G TABLE Attributed to John


A Regency o r m o l u mounted r o s e w o o d writing table attributed t o J o h n M c L e a n ( 1 7 7 0 - 1 8 2 5 ) , the leather writing surface with gilt tooling within a crossbanded border with gilt metal lattice gallery on three sides, a b o v e t w o drawers in the frieze with lion's head ring pull handles, the corners with curved striated panels, on lyre end supports with splayed feet with inset striated gilt metal panels, joined by a turned stretcher.

English, circa 1810 Height: 28/4 in / 7 3 cm Length: 4 2 in / 1 0 7 cm D e p t h : 2 7 in / 6 9 c m

A writing table 101


to James


A Regency Egyptian style parcel gilt rosewood and satinwood collector's cabinet-on-stand attributed to James N e w t o n (1760-1829), the cabinet with a gilt metal gallery above a foliate Vutruvian scrolled frieze separated by ebonised Egyptian masks on square gilt gesso panels, above t w o rosewood doors banded with applied giltwood, cornered by ebonised lion's masks surrounding a satinwood panel crossbanded in tulipwood with b o x w o o d and ebony stringing, opening to reveal a series of graduated long drawers in rosewood with satinwood crossbanding and turned ivory handles, the reverse of the doors also with satinwood panels crossbanded with tulipwood with b o x w o o d

and ebony stringing, the stand with a single long drawer in the frieze with bronze lion's head ring pull handles and satinwood panels, the carved legs with straight and twisted fluting headed by ebonised Egyptian masks and terminating in lion's paw feet. English, circa 1810 Height: 64 in / 163 cm Width: 42/2 in / 108 cm Depth: 19 i n / 4 8 cm LITERATURE

James Newton, Giles Ellwood, Furniture History 1995, vol XXXI, fig 9-13. Dictionary of English Makers 1660-1840, Furniture History Society, 1986

A collector's cabinet 103

This important cabinet is closely related to two cabinets at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, designed by James Newton (1760-1829) and commissioned by Henry, 10th Earl and 1st Marquis of Exeter. Both these cabinets have similar Egyptian stylised mounts and classical decoration, are raised on stands and incorporate the richest of veneers. Although no early provenance is yet known for this cabinet it is of an outstanding quality, incorporating the most expensive and luxurious veneers, particularly noticeable in the intense figuring of the satinwood panelled doors and rich rosewood fronts to the inside drawers. Much of James Newton's work carries this particular style with an emphasis on contrasting woods combined with superb craftsmanship. His list of clients at the pinnacle of his career is impressive, led primarily by his commissions for Burghley House which totalled almost ÂŁ8,000 and lasted nearly thirty-one years. Other notable clients included Sir Gilbert Heathcote (17971803), Normanton Park, Rutland, and Viscount Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey (1804-6), for which there exists considerable correspondance.

104 A collector's cabinet

\1 I .


^I j J -


' v^ ti

/ * 4


An exceptional and rare Regency amboyna wood sarcophagus inkstand, the shaped top inset with a brass and ebony tablet inlaid with the Order of the Garter, opening to reveal two quill trays and two ormolu mounted glass inkwells, the reverse of the lid profusely inlaid with brass showing a vase of flowers flanked by t w o exotic birds among trailing foliage, on gold fluted classical end supports with further gilded brass foliate inlay terminating in large scale lion's paw feet, all on an ebony plinth inlaid also with birds, a vase and foliage and with a border of inlaid geometric brass banding. English, circa 1810 Height: 8% in / 22 cm Width: 1 6 ' / 4 m / 4 2 . 5 cm Depth: VVi in / 19 cm The shape of this magnificent inkstand derives from the great porphyry t o m b of Agrippa under the portico of the Pantheon in Rome. The t o m b was a popular architectural image and it became an inspiration to draughtsmen and designers. Robert Adam was one, which is evident in his drawing of 1768 for stools made for Kedleston Hall and Lansdowne House. He had seen the t o m b whilst in Rome and also knew well Antoine Desgodetz' Edifices Antiques de Rome. The inkstand is a later interpretation of this powerful form.


J frifdj


^ potieej


A Dcsgodctz, Edifices Antiques de Rome, 1682. Sec page 10.

106 A sarcophagus inkstand

A sarcophagus inkstand 107







A highly unusual Regency circular centre table, the grey granite top above a beaded and fluted edge, supported on a central fluted column topped with acanthus and laurel decoration bound with a small band of flowers and wheatsheaves, the base with similar acanthus decoration with four scrolled and beaded supports centred by a fluted and foliate banded bell, all supported on a rosewood beaded plinth. English, circa 1 8 1 0 Height: 31% in / 7 9 . 5 cm Diameter: 3 3 in / 84 cm

1 1 0 An ormolu centre table

i l



igi ! ,


An unusual Regency calamander and specimen wood spider leg sofa table, the top with varied hardwood veneers within a brass inlaid rosewood crossbanded border with D end flaps, supported on four double curved legs with foliate brass mounts and joined by a circular disc topped with a brass finial, terminating in brass castors. English, circa 1810 Height: 27 in / 69 cm Length open: 58 in / 147 cm Length closed: 3>SVA in / 91 cm Depth: 2 4 in / 61 cm



Frances Collard, p 3 1 7

For similar examples: The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. Ill, p 2 6 9 , fig 17, from the collection of Victoria, Lady Sackville, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum Furniture in Colour, Lanto Synge, p 64 This highly unusual sofa/writing table is one of only three known to exist that incorporates the double curved leg supports that are more often seen on card tables of

the same period. It makes full use of the extravagant and exotic use of a combination of hardwoods, predominently calamander, with zebrawood, rosewood and satinwood to offset the richness of the brass mounts and inlay. It differs slightly from the examples mentioned above in that it is the only known complete table with the brass mounts used throughout. Although no known maker's name can be associated with this table it incorporates the fine lines of the influence of Thomas Sheraton together with the full blown extravaganza of the Regency period.

A specimen wood sofa table 113

A C A B I N E T IN T H E E G Y P T I A N T A S T E Attributed

to George


An ormolu mounted Regency calamander wood Egyptian style cabinet, the upper section with classical pediment enriched with gilt metal decoration, centred with a mask surrounded by pierced foliate decoration, above two bookcase doors with arched astragals and bordered in boxwood and satinwood, the lower section with a secretaire drawer with lion's head ring pull handles opening to reveal a writing surface and an arrangement of small satinwood drawers and pigeon holes, above cupboard doors enclosing two small mahogany and ebony banded drawers above a single shelf, flanked by satinwood inlaid columns headed by Egyptian masks and terminating in gilt embossed feet, raised on short square moulded legs. English, circa 1810 Height: 69Vi in / 176.5 cm Width: 30/4 in / 78 cm Depth: 20/2 in / 52 cm

114 A cabinet in the Egyptian taste


Grosvenor Handbook,

House Antiques


1 9 8 6 , p 83

George Oakley ( 1 7 7 3 - 1 8 4 0 ) was a fashionable London maker, producing furniture in the high Regency style or 'Grecian' taste. He had a reputation for the fine quality of his work and the firm received Royal patronage. One contemporary comment describes Oakley as 'the most tasteful of London's cabinet-makers'. Another wrote 'their warehouse is one of the sights of London'. The Egyptian motif is a major element of neo-classicism in the Regency period and a fashionable reflection of Nelson's victory over the French fleet on the Nile in 1 7 9 8 . Oakley frequently used exotic hardwoods such as calamander, or 'zebra' wood, and his cabinet pieces were typically architectural in form. There exists a small group of cabinets

attributable to Oakley, of which this is one. Each cabinet is of small scale, with strongly grained calamander veneers, gothic astragals and Egyptian caryatids. One, in the M H de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco has the same architectural pediment as this cabinet. Two others are known of the same form but without the classical pediment, one formerly with H Blairman & Son (See their catalogue of 1 9 9 5 , no 4) and another in the Victoria and Albert Museum (See The Dictionary of English Furniture vol I, p 158, fig 80). Oakley's best documented commission was for Charles Madryll Chere at Papworth Hall, Cambridgeshire, which included a bookcase with identical gilt metal ornament in the pediment to this cabinet. Lion's mask drawer handles are also identical to those on an Oakley wardrobe at Papworth.



if ^ • • • • • ^



A pair of early 19th century patinated bronze and ormolu table lamps, the boatshaped supports with flame finial and shaped spout, supporting on one the figure of a young m a n seated cross-legged in classical dress holding a book in his left hand and a pen in his right hand, the other with a seated girl also in classical dress with an ormolu book open and

raised on her knees, the base with gadrooned decoration, raised on circular socles and square plinths. French, circa 1800 Height: 12 in / 30.5 cm Width: 4/2 in / 11.5 cm Length: 13'/2 in / 34 cm Base: 414 x 4 in / 11.5 x 10 cm

A pair of bronze and ormolu table lamps 117

m 118







Beard, G &: Gilbert, C, edited by. Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986. Dickinson, HW, Matthew Boulton, Unversity Press, 1937. Goodison N, Ormolu: The Work of Matthew Boulton London, 1974. Harris, E, The Furniture of Robert Adam, London, 1963. King, D, The Complete Works of Robert Adam, Oxford, 1991. Macquoid, P & Edwards, R, The Dictionary of English Furniture, Country Life, 1954. Spiers, WL Catalogue of the Drawings and Designs of Robert and James Adam, Cambridge, 1979. Tait, A, Robert Adam-Drawings and Imagination Cambridge University Press, 1993. Wood, L, Catalogue of Commodes, HMSO, 1994. ARTICLES

Clifford, T, 'Vulliamy Clocks and British Sculpture', Apollo, October 1990, pp 226-237. Ellwood, G, 'James Newton,' Furniture History X X X I , 1995, pp 129-205. Goodison, N, 'Matthew Boulton's Minerva' Burlington Magazine, v.l38 no. 1119, June



Rex Cooper'^ Chairman Lanto Synge Chief Executive The Hon Peter Dixon Paula Hunt Giles Hutchinson Smith Thomas Woodham-Smith Henry Neville The Hon Mrs Simon Weinstock'' *Non-executive M A L L E T T & SON ( A N T I Q U E S ) LTD

141 New Bond Street London W I Y OBS Telephone: 020 7499 7411 Fax: 020 7495 3179 Lanto Synge Managing Director The Hon Peter Dixon Director Paula Hunt Director Giles Hutchinson Smith Director John Smith Associate Director James Harvey Associate Director Richard Cave Jeremy Garfield-Davies Tarquin Bilgen Charles Mackinnon

1996,p 398-401 Goodison, N, 'Urania Observed' Furniture History, XXI, 1985, pp 241-2 Goodison, N, 'Matthew Boulton's Bacchanalian Vase', The Connoisseur, July

1997, pp 182-7. Redburn, S, 'John McLean and Son', Furniture History XIV, 1978, pp 31-37. Smith, R, 'Benjamin Vulliamy's painted satinwood clocks and pedestals', Apollo, June

1995, pp 25-33.


2 Davies Street London W I Y ILJ Telephone: 020 7629 2444 Fax: 020 7499 2670 Thomas Woodham-Smith Henry Neville Director Katie Pertwee Felicity Jarrett Nicholas Wells


Mallett Website: Email:

Š Mallett & Son (Antiques) Ltd 2000 Designed by Theo Hodges Business Design Consultants Printed by Hyway Printing Group









Mallett's are higely proud and privileged to have acquired this remarkable collection of Matthew Boulton objects and great neoclassical furn...

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