• Focal Point - The Nicholas Gif auction at Christies

    Sale 5975

    Focal Point - The Nicholas Gifford-Mead Collection of Chimneypieces & Ornament

    29 October 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 156



    Price Realised  


    The frieze centred with a finely carved tablet depicting the Aesops fable of a Fox and a Stork, showing the animals in naturalistic surroundings, flanked by scrolled corbels supporting a moulded shelf above delicately carved graduated bell husks or possibly hop blossoms
    58 in. (147.4 cm.) high; 75½ in. (191.8 cm.) wide; 10½ in. (26.6 cm.) deep; the opening 44 in. (111.7 cm.) x 45 in. (114.3 cm.)

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    Research shows the same model of chimneypiece at Syon House with Siena grounds originally in Northumberland House and documented as by Thomas Carter.

    The Carter family was a family of sculptors who established themselves primarily as carvers of chimneypieces in the mid-eighteenth century. Initially founded by two older brothers, Thomas and Benjamin, who often worked together, the former was later replaced by his nephew and son-in-law Thomas Carter the Younger, who inherited the business upon the death of Thomas the Elder in 1756 and formed a more solid partnership with his uncle Benjamin.

    The attribution of this chimneypiece to the Carter workshops stems from the surviving evidence of the re-building of Northumberland House from 1748 when the seventh Duke of Somerset employed Daniel Garrett to rebuild the North front. An account of the alterations is contained in a letter written by his wife to Lady Luxborough in June, 1749 which was reproduced in the Builder, on the 15th of April, 1871

    The Duke of Somerset's account at Hoares bank records a payment to Carter of 187 pounds on June 2nd 1750 (Ledger U f13) and there is a further payment of 400 pounds on March 25th 1752 ( f438) whilst the Northumberland House Account Book records a payment on 23rd May 1757 to Mr Carter Chimney-pieces in full 292 pounds. These payments therefore probably relate to the new chimneypieces being made for the new apartments mentioned by Lady Luxborough.

    The following letter was found behind the tablet when the chimneypiece was removed from Ponsonby Old Hall:
    Ponsonby Old Hall
    CA20 1BX
    Tel Beckermet 202
    December 1980

    This Adam marble fireplace was removed by the Trustees
    of Pelham House (Ponsonby Hall) from the Drawing Room in 1940, stored for 4 years in the cellars until brought to the attention of John Peter Stanley, who acquired it from the Trustees and reassembled it in the Drawing Room of this House, for the benefit of future Stanleys if at anytime this house is sold the fireplace should be reserved for sale and advice taken for its disposal. At this moment of time the fireplace must be 200 years in age having first installed by George Edward Stanley approx 1780 in Ponsonby Hall, Calderbridge. The Georgian mansion we think was built under the supervision of the well known architect Mr Jack (James) Paine.

    J.P. Stanley
    brother to N.A. Stanley
    of Daleganth and son of
    Philip Stanley of Ponsonby
    Hall died 1940.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    This lot will be removed to an off-site warehouse at the close of business on the day of sale - 2 weeks free storage

    Pre-Lot Text


    At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a joke put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This the Fox could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of her long bill in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began. I am sorry, said the Fox, the soup is not to your liking. Pray do not apologise, said the Stork. I hope you will return this visit, and come and dine with me soon. So a day was appointed when the Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at table all that was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a narrow mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he could manage to do was to lick the outside of the jar. I will not apologise for the dinner, said the Stork: One bad turn deserves another.

    Aesop's Fables, Sixth Century.

    Post Lot Text