• The William F. Reilly Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 2273

    The William F. Reilly Collection

    14 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 108



    Price Realised  


    The rectangular top veneered with marble specimens laid out in a square grid with a key in Arabic numerals at each end, above a palm-mounted frieze with a pair of wreaths, on turned reeded tapering legs, on later brass feet, with Newmarket depository label on the reverse for Seymour, Cole and Co.
    35 in. (89 cm.) high, 54 in. (137 cm.) wide, 27 in. (68.5 cm.) deep

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    The 19th Century Italian (Roman) multi-coloured table-top is mosaiced with a wide variety of marbles and framed in squares by rosso antico marble, while its border of golden Siena marble is inlaid with numbered identification medallions. A previous owner, Humphrey Whitbread, believed that it was acquired on the Grand Tour by the connoisseur, Edward, Viscount Lascelles (d. 1814), a veritable patron of the arts, for Harewood House, Hanover Square, London, which was purchased in 1795 (M. Mauchline, Harewood House, Ashbourne, 1992, pp. 113-114 and 119). The table would then have passed by descent at Harewood House, Yorkshire, before being acquired by Mr. Whitbread. Mr. Whitbread himself was a consummate collector in the 'Vogue Regency' tradition also followed by contemporaries Lord Gerald Wellesley and Edward Knoblock between the wars. He set forth furnishing his house in the Regency manner to emulate Southill, his family home furnished in the early 19th century by Henry Holland and Charles Heathcote Tatham.

    The table's Grecian-black sideboard-table frame, conceived in the Pompeian or Etruscan manner, may possibly have been commissioned around 1800 by the connoisseur Thomas Hope (d. 1842) for his London mansion-museum in Duchess Street. In contrast to his contemporaries like the Prince Regent and William Beckford, Hope sought to influence public taste with a guide of his new designs of furniture and architecture influenced by his extensive, ten year Grand Tour. In a letter to the silversmith Matthew Boulton about his Grecian-based designs, Hope writes that he '...endeavoured to make myself master of the spirit of the Antique.' (F. Collard, "Thomas Hope's Furniture," Thomas Hope Regency Designer, D. Watkin and P. Hewat-Jaboor (ed), New Haven, 2008, p.57). The publication of Household Furniture and Interior Decoration Executed from Designs by Thomas Hope, (1807) depicted the architecture and furnishings of his Duchess Street House and is thought to be the first such book by an architect on his personal residence. Yet more importantly, Hope chose to print his guide commercially so that it could be afforded by a much larger audience.

    Hope's Duchess street parlours, with their black and gilt enrichments, served for the display of Greek vases, and this table may possibly be the one featured in the 'Second Room of Greek Vases' in his 1807 publication (plate IV). The later feet correspond to the design as well to Hope's Roman spear 'fire screen' (plate XVIII). The parlour's festive decoration, which was described as comprising 'insignia of Bacchus', included Arcadian Pan reeds. These served as 'rafters' to sustain the vase-shelves, and also provided an 'Egyptian' element for the table columns. Hope's principal Dining-Room was furnished with a larger version of this table, and its golden ornaments were also described as comprising 'emblems of Bacchus and of Ceres' (plate IX). The table's architecture corresponds to that introduced in the 1790s in the Rue de Colonnes, Paris, and comprises palm-flowers rising above Grecian Doric pillars, which are paired in the triumphal-arch manner (R. Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art, New Jersey, 1970, pls. 145 and 146). The Grecian Doric is also evoked by the table's triumphal wreaths, which drived from the Grecian Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus, which had been illustrated in J. Stuart and N. Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, 1762. Ribboned vine wreaths also featured on Hope's dining-room sideboard-pedestals, which were formed as vase-capped 'altars' (pl. IX). The table's central tablet, comprising a palm-flowered lozenge compartment, corresponds to a pattern featured on one of Hope's sets of chairs (pl. VII).

    Unlike much of Hope's Duchess Street furniture, the location of his sideboard-tables has been undocumented, and this increases the possibility that this is actually one of his Duchess Street tables.

    A related mosaic marble slab, also with a number-inlaid Siena border, was displayed on a commmode executed in the 1780s by the Berlin court cabinet-maker Johann Gottlob Fiedler and sold by Catherine, Countess of Clanwilliam, Christie's, London, 13 June 1991, lot 90.


    As per Humphrey Whitbread, the table's late owner, the top is thought to have been acquired on the Grand Tour by Edward, Viscount Lascelles (d. 1814) for Harewood House, Hanover Square, and that the table passed by descent at Harewood House, Yorkshire.
    Humphrey Whitbread (d. 2000), Howard's House, Bedfordshire.
    The Humphrey Whitbread Collection; Christie's, London, 5 April 2001, lot 412