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    Sale 7727

    Important English Furniture and Clocks

    4 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 92

    A GEORGE II WHITE-PAINTED AND PARCEL-GILT PIER TABLE

    THE DESIGN ATTRIBUTED TO WILLIAM KENT, CIRCA 1730

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A GEORGE II WHITE-PAINTED AND PARCEL-GILT PIER TABLE
    THE DESIGN ATTRIBUTED TO WILLIAM KENT, CIRCA 1730
    The later rectangular portor marble top above an acanthus-carved moulded frieze, on a solid pedestal support with scrolled upper half carved with foliage and shells, on a breakfront imbricated lower half, the frieze on the reverse possibly replaced, inscribed in chalk with Christie's stock number '265WY', with remains of depository label, differently decorated when sold in 1975
    31 in. (79 cm.) high; 47 in. (119.5 cm.) wide; 24 in (61 cm.) deep.


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    THE PROVENANCE
    When sold at Christie's in 1975 this table came from Spye Park, Chippenham, a house built in 1863-8 in a 'gabled Tudor' style to designs of William Burn, for J.W.G. Spicer, who had bought the estate in 1863. Such a house seems an improbable origin for a table in a Palladian style. Furniture designed by Kent himself is surprisingly rare, given its influence, and pedestal pier-tables rarer still. Astonishingly there is an entirely plausible explanation for the table's presence at Spye Park. For sixty years before acquiring Spye Park (1805-1863), the Spicer family had owned Esher Place, Surrey, famed as a refuge of Cardinal Wolsey after his fall, and for its buildings designed by Kent. It seems almost certain that this table was brought to Spye Park in 1863 from Esher Place, for which it had been designed. The chances of it having been acquired by the Spicer family from another source seem remote.

    THE DESIGN
    Conceived as a George II 'Roman' sideboard-table in a style appropriate for a Palladian villa, the table's marble top is supported on a tripod frame of voluted trusses on altar-pedestals that are enriched with shells and dolphin-scales, evoking lyric poetry and the triumph of the nature deity Venus. Its Roman truss form, introduced in the 17th Century by the court architect Inigo Jones (d.1652) was popularised in the early 18th Century by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and his promotion of Isaac Ware's Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones and others, 1731. In particular it was Burlington's protégé, the artist architect William Kent (d.1748), Master Carpenter to the King's Board of Works, who featured a related table, supported by voluted trusses and wrapped by Roman acanthus, in his Designs of
    Inigo Jones
    of 1727. Henry Pelham was a subscriber to Isaac Ware's 1738 translation of Palladio's Four Books of Architecture, which included an acanthus-scrolled headpiece by Kent. Burlington and Kent also invented related Roman marble-topped tables, comprised of plinth-supported trusses, for Burlington's villa at Chiswick. One of that pair is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, having been sold at Sotheby's London, 30 April 1971, lot 114. Its pair remains at Chatsworth and is illustrated in O. Brackett, English Furniture Illustrated, London, rev. ed., 1950, p. 152, pl. CXXIVb.

    WILLIAM KENT AND HENRY PELHAM
    Having married in 1726, Henry Pelham bought a small estate at Esher in 1729, close to his brother at Claremont. At Esher, he employed Kent to alter the house that they found there, comprising the surviving gatehouse of William of Waynflete's 15th century palace, with two three-storey 18th century wings. Nicholas Thompson has written that 'Esher aimed to impress not so much by its size as by the taste of its owner'. Kent converted these additions in his own style of Tudor Gothic into a house for Pelham, with interiors in a mixture of styles, with much Gothick. A design by Kent for the saloon survives, with a ceiling embellished with shell-spandrels and a cove enriched with paired trusses, eminently suitable for this table.
    Although only a very little of Kent's work at Esher survives to this day, enough evidence exists from drawings and the comments of Horace Walpole to confirm that internal decorations were in a variety of styles, as well as Tudor Gothic. Vardy published one chimneypiece pattern for Esher, in his Designs of Inigo Jones and William Kent, 1744, which combines a restrained Gothick chimneypiece with a recognisably Palladian overmantel.

    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.


    Provenance

    Probably supplied to the Rt. Hon. Henry Pelham (d. 1754), eminent statesman and brother of the 1st Duke of Newcastle (d. 1768), for Esher Place, Surrey, and by descent with that house until it was bought in 1805 by
    John William Spicer (d. 1831) and by descent to his son
    John William Gooch Spicer (1817 - 1883), who bought Spye Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1863, and by descent to his great-grandson
    The late Captain F.F.F. Spicer, D.S.O., Spye Park, Christie's, London, 10 April 1975, lot 112.
    Private Collection from 1975 until sold Bruton Knowles, Cheltenham, circa 1990.
    With Christopher Gibbs.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 5 June 2007, lot 148.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
    (LOTS 92-93)