• English Furniture and Clocks auction at Christies

    Sale 7769

    English Furniture and Clocks

    19 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 80

    A GEORGE III SATINWOOD, HAREWOOD, BURR-YEW AND MARQUETRY BREAKFRONT BOOKCASE

    ATTRIBUTED TO MAYHEW AND INCE, LATE 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A GEORGE III SATINWOOD, HAREWOOD, BURR-YEW AND MARQUETRY BREAKFRONT BOOKCASE
    ATTRIBUTED TO MAYHEW AND INCE, LATE 18TH CENTURY
    Crossbanded overall in tulipwood, the moulded and dentil cornice with an arched central pediment inlaid with Erato and ribbon-tied swags above a frieze with simulated stop-fluting and roundels, the crossbanded and astragal glazed doors enclosing three long and six short adjustable baize-lined later shelves, the base inlaid with husk-wreathed oval panels, with one double door to the right enclosing two slides and two shelves, the left-hand door enclosing three graduated drawers, on a mahogany plinth base, the backboards inscribed in pencil 'TOWER', two slides missing, shrinkage splits to lower doors, the shelf re-veneered in satin birch, three panes cracked
    100 in. (254 cm.) high; 81½ in. (207 cm.) wide; 24 in. (61 cm.) deep


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    The satinwood bookcase displays a number of features closely associated with the Golden Square, Soho, partnership of Messrs Mayhew and Ince. The same Muse image features in a painted medallion embellishing a tambour writing-table that was formerly at Durdans, Epsom (L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, p. 229, fig. 215) and Mayhew and Ince also favoured the use of richly figured yew veneer, such as features on a bureau-writing-table at Burghley, Lincolnshire. An arched pediment featured on a mahogany bookcase also attributed to the firm (Dealing in Excellence: A Celebration of Hotspur and Jeremy, Christie's London, 20 Novenber 2009, lot 90).
    The bookcase is inscribed in pencil with the family name 'Tower' and is likely to have been commissioned by Christopher Tower (d.1810) for his wife Elizabeth (née Baker of Elmore Hall, Durham) at the time of his inheritance in 1778 of Weald Hall, Essex.


    THE ICONOGRAPHY
    The bookcase celebrates lyric-poetry and is designed in the elegant George III Roman fashion of the 1770s. Its triumphal-arched temple pediment, intended to be crowned by sacred urns, has its tympanum labelled with a beribboned medallion of Erato, the lyre-playing Muse of Love Poetry and Mount Parnassus companion of Apollo as leader of Artistic Inspiration. Its architecture corresponds to that of a 'Design for (a bookcase) for a Gentleman's Villa', illustrated in 1774 in John Carter's, Builder's Magazine (see E. White, Pictorial Dictionary of British 18th Century Furniture Designs, Woodbridge, 1990, p.243). Its 'commode' base is mosaic-parquetried with golden Apollonian laurels enwreathing Roman medallions of burr yew, such as featured on a pattern for an urn-capped 'Lady's Secretary and Library' published the following year in Thomas Malton's Compleat Treatise on Perspective, 1775 (White, op. cit., p. 228).
    Its glazing appropriately recalls the poet Ovid's, Metamorphoses (or Loves of the Gods) and is flowered with a beribboned mosaic recalling Apollo's love Clytie, who was metamorphosised into a sunflower (see lot 49 in this sale). This pattern was invented and engraved in 1753 by the St. Martin's Lane cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale (d.1779) and featured in his Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, whose third and final edition of 1762 displayed taste at the beginning of George III's reign.

    The bookcase was offered in the Alfred Savill & Sons house sale, Weald Hall, 1-13 July 1946, lot 431 and retained by the family following the sale.

    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.
    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    Provenance

    lmost certainly supplied to Christopher Tower (d.1810), Weald Hall, Brentwood, Essex and by descent.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF THE LATE MISS PAMELA TOWER,
    FORMERLY AT WEALD HALL, ESSEX