• The Collection of Benjamin F.  auction at Christies

    Sale 2388

    The Collection of Benjamin F. Edwards III

    26 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 230



    Price Realised  

    Each curved back flanked by crook arms above oval drop-in seat covered in petit point floral needlework, on hipped shell and bellflower carved legs and claw-and-ball feet, each stamped 'J.B', one stamped twice (2)

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    Several examples of armchairs in this 'Old English' revival style were produced by Gillows, and a nearly identical brown oak example, carved by Rigby and made by Robert Lawson, is illustrated in S.E. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, 2008, vol. II, p. 231, pl. 225. Although a specific maker cannot be identified, several men with the initials J.B. are recorded as working in the 1830s and might have produced these chairs. A chair of the same model and made in yew was drawn in the Estimate Sketch Book on 13 June 1827, and scrawled under the drawing is Dallam Tower, the house near Milnethorpe owned by the Wilson family who had patronized Gillows for generations. Other examples were also made in mahogany, walnut and elm. The chair pattern compares closely to an eighteenth century example from Boyton House, Wiltshire as illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, 1927, vol. I, p. 237, fig. 91.

    The collection formed by Percival D. Griffiths, F.S.A (d. 1938), under the wise counsel of the furniture historian R. W. Symonds, is considered to be the greatest collection of English Furniture formed in the last century. Indeed, it was Griffiths' collection that provided the content for Symonds' seminal work English Furniture from Charles II to George II, 1929. The interiors at Sandridgebury are happily recalled in 'Sandridgebury: The Country Residence of Percival D. Griffiths', published by Symonds in Antiques, March 1931, pp. 193-196 where these chairs appears in a view of the Morning Room. His collection has come to be recognised as a benchmark of excellence, in the arena of collecting early to mid-18th century walnut and mahogany furniture and is discussed by E. Lennox-Boyd, 'Introduction: Collecting in the Symonds Tradition', Masterpieces of English Furniture: The Gerstenfeld Collection, London, 1998, pp. 12-31.

    Frederick Poke (d. 1974) was one of another slightly later group of distinguished collectors of English furniture also advised by Symonds. Similarly, his collection formed the basis of several articles by Symonds, published in The Connoisseur from 1939-1942 (C. Streeter & M. Barker, 'A Bibliography of Publications by Robert Wemyss Symonds', Furniture History, 1975, pp. 88-107). The dispersal of Griffiths' collection at Christie's in May 1939 provided the nucleus for at least six major collections, and Poke's was one of these (although this pair of chairs was not included in the sale). Items owned by Poke, like items owned by collectors within Symonds' 'circle', have continued to attract collectors: two of Poke's items were included in the private collection '50 Years of Collecting: The Decorative Arts of Georgian England', sold at Christie's, London, 14 May 2003 (lots 39 and 110). A small group of twelve items of furniture and objects, was sold by a descendant of Poke's, Sotheby's, London, 13 June 2001, lots 69-81. The latter group included several items, like the present table, formerly in Griffiths' collection. A tripod table, owned by Griffiths and then Poke, was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 14 June 2001, lot 39 and a lion-masked side table also in both collections was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 18 June 2008, lot 3.


    Percival Griffiths Esq., Sandridgebury, St. Albans.
    Frederick Poke Esq., Langholm, Parkside, Wimbledon Common.
    The Property of a Lady; Sotheby's London, 5 June 2007, lot 112.


    M. Harris & Sons, A Catalogue and Index of Old Furniture and Works of Art, London, n.d. (circa 1930), p. 132, no. F23080.
    R. W. Symonds, English Furniture from Charles II to George II, London, 1929, p.148.
    R. W. Symonds, 'Sandridgebury: The Country Residence of Percival D. Griffiths', The Magazine Antiques, March 1931, p. 196.
    R. W. Symonds, 'Walnut and Mahogany Chairs of the XVIIIth century in the Collection of Mr Frederick Poke', Apollo, August 1939, p.49, fig. II.