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    Sale 12195

    Living With Art

    14 - 15 June 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 388


    CIRCA 1715

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1715
    The arched padded back, scrolled sides and loose cushion seat covered in floral needlework, the seat rail with drop cartouche inlaid with the Bowes coat-of-arms, on broken cabriole legs and hoof feet, restorations, the needlework apparently original

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    The chair is part of a larger set displaying the coat of arms of Sir William Bowes (d. 1706), ancestor to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Consort of King George VI. The set was commissioned by Elizabeth, Lady Bowes who, as a widow, was allowed to bear her late husband’s arms within a lozenge. Thus the set dates between 1706, the year of Sir William’s death, and 1718, when their eldest son came of age. Two matching side chairs covered in the same needlework were sold by a Gentleman, Formerly in the Collection of Colonel Norman Colville M.C.; Christie’s, London, 14 June 2001, lot 66 (£64,250). One of these is illustrated in D. Nickerson, English Furniture, 1963, p. 6, fig. 1. A third side chair is illustrated in the 1924 Dictionary photograph with the present wing chair (see Literature above).

    The distinctive profile of the broken cabriole leg was a feature of James Moore’s work at Blenheim Castle for the 1st Duke of Marlborough (see A. Bowett, op. cit., p. 154, pl. 4:18), while the leg design closely relates to a set of japanned bedroom chairs thought to have been supplied by John Belchier in around 1720 for Erddig, North Wales (see R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, rev. edn., 1954, vol. I, p. 261, fig. 106).

    The aggrandizement of Streatlam Castle, Co. Durham, was carried out with the assistance of the architect Thomas Shirley and under the direction of Elizabeth’s son from 1717-1722. Heraldry was a notable feature of other Bowes commissions. To celebrate the Bowes-Blakeston marriage in 1693, the state bedroom was furnished with an impressive Anglo-Dutch floral clothes-cabinet inlaid with the arms of both families. The piece, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is discussed in Wills and Coutts, op. cit, pp. 231-232, fig. 3. There is also a card-table bearing the Bowes crest (Edwards, op. cit., vol. III, p. 242, fig. 4). It has been suggested that all of this inlaid furniture was also supplied by Belchier, who may have been of Huguenot origin and specialized in all sorts of 'Cabinet Works' and 'Chairs'. A set of four early Georgian giltwood mirrors (circa 1720-40), which post-date the suite are also emblazoned with the family arms. One of these was sold on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Christie’s, New York, 27 October 2015 lot 73 ($221,000) and another is at the Bowes Museum.

    Streatlam remained the Bowes family seat until the 19th century, at which time it was enlarged during by John Bowes (who founded the Bowes Museum). It was upon the latter’s death in 1885 that the house reverted to the Strathmore family who vacated in 1922; the house was demolished five years later. Lady Strathmore took some of the contents from the house back to Glamis Castle, the family’s ancestral home in Scotland, at this time (G. Worsley, England's Lost Houses, London, 2002, pp. 62-63) while other pieces were known to be sold to the London trade.

    Special Notice

    All lots will be stored free of charge for 35 days from the auction date at Christie’s Rockefeller Center or Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Operation hours for collection from either location are from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm, Monday-Friday. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.


    Commissioned by Elizabeth, Lady Bowes (née Blakeston of Gibside Manor), widow of Sir William Bowes (d. 1706) for Streatlam Castle, County Durham.
    By descent at Streatlam with the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne and likely sold by the Countess of Strathmore in the 1920s.
    With Phillips of Hitchen (Antiques) Ltd., Hertfordshire, circa 1962.
    The Trustees of the S.T. Cook Will Trust; Sotheby’s, New York, 16 October 1993, lot 308.

    Pre-Lot Text



    P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1924, vol. I, p. 223, fig. 60 (almost certainly the same chair with loose covering over the needlework; shown with a side chair from the set).
    M. Wills and H. Coutts, ‘The Bowes Family of Streatlam Castle and Gibside and Its Collections’, Metropolitan Museum Journal no. 33, 1998, p. 235, fig. 7.
    A. Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2009, p. 155, fig. 4:20.


    London, Victoria and Albert Museum, C.I.N.O.A. International Art Treasures Exhibition, 1962, no. 95, pl. 68 (with Phillips of Hitchen).