• The William F. Reilly Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 2273

    The William F. Reilly Collection

    14 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 212


    CIRCA 1815

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1815
    The rectangular top with an ebony-inlaid ebony vinery border above mahogany-lined frieze drawers and sham drawers, on paneled trestle supports and an arched stretcher, one drawer with chalk 'L3374' inventory number
    30 in. (76 cm.) 50 in. (127 cm.) wide, 26½ in. (67 cm.) deep

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    This elegant sofa-table reflects the French-fashioned 'Grecian Furniture' style adopted by the cabinet-maker George Bullock (d. 1818) following his 1814 Paris visit and the establishment of his fashionable Tenterden Street premises. Bullock's work was particularly known by his use of indigenous woods and naturalistic motifs. Richard Brown in his Elements of Drawing in 1822 writes of Bullock, 'He has shown that we need not roam to foreign climes for beautiful ornaments, but that we have abundance of plants and flowers equal to the Grecian which, if adopted, would be found as pleasing as the antique' ( A. Coleridge "The Work of George Bullock, cabinet-maker, in Scotland: I", The Connoisseur, April 1965, p.249).

    The identical patterned border to the sofa table but in the reverse, with an ebony ground and brass inlay, frequently appears on documented furniture from Bullock's workshop. The 4th Duke of Buccleuch made two payments from his account at Coutts on 23rd June 1813 and 16 November 1814 to Bullock, one of which was almost certainly for an oak sofa table with these borders still in the collection at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. Another model of the same table made with rosewood and inset with a malachite top is illustrated in George Bullock Cabinet-maker, H. Blairman & Sons Ltd., London, 1988, p.99.

    Several lots of furniture attributed to Bullock and supplied to Don Pedro de Souza e Holstein, 1st Duke of Palmella (d.1850), Portuguese ambassador to the court of the Prince Regent (later King George IV), were sold at Christie's, London, 25 June 1987. They also feature the same ebony-inlaid brass trefoil border.

    While the border pattern and use of indigenous wood indicates a possible Bullock attribution, the design of this sofa table closely relates to one of Bullock's contemporaries, the workshop of Nicholas Morel and George Seddon. Their partnership was formed shortly after Morel's personal selection by George IV to furnish the royal apartments at Windsor Castle in 1826. A burr elm writing table, with very similar voluted trestle supports and scrolled feet, was made for this refurbishment and documented as account numbers 889 and 929 for Room 231 at Windsor. (H. Roberts, For the King's Pleasure, London 2001, p. 317, fig. 399). Another related writing table of rosewood by Morel and Seddon was documented as account number 806 at Windsor and is now in a private collection (op. cit., p. 312, fig. 379).


    Bought from Stair, London, in 1990.