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    Sale 7561

    Simon Sainsbury The Creation of an English Arcadia

    18 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 92

    A PAIR OF GEORGE III BLUE-JOHN AND ALABASTER SOLID URNS

    CIRCA 1780

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF GEORGE III BLUE-JOHN AND ALABASTER SOLID URNS
    CIRCA 1780
    Each with a ball finial and tapering body on square stepped plinths bordered with alabaster and slate, restorations, one later finial
    Each 12½ in. (32 cm.) high; 4¼ in. (11 cm.) square (2)


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    This Etruscan mantelpiece-garniture - of wine-krater form urns evoking sacrifices at Love's altar in antiquity - was probably commisioned for Stoneleigh by James Henry Leigh in the early 1780s. Founded as a Cistercian Abbey by Henry II in 1155, Stoneleigh passed into the hands of the Leigh family when Sir Thomas Leigh and Sir Rowland Hill puchased it in 1561 from William Cavendish for £1,950. After the death of the 5th Baron Leigh in 1786 the male line of the first Lord Leigh came to an end. Following a protracted dispute over his will, the estate eventually passed to the Gloucestershire side of the family, specifically to James Henry Leigh (1765-1823) of Adlestrop. Records revealing James Henry Leigh's contribution to the furnishing of Stoneleigh - as well as that of his predecessors - remain in the Leigh family archives, now deposited at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon. These records show James Henry Leigh and his wife undertook extensive refurbishments at Adlestrop in Gloucestershire, Grove House, Kensington Gore and two other London houses, one on Harley Street and one on Portman Square. Seemingly undaunted, the Leighs embarked upon a large-scale refurbishment of Stoneleigh and several bills record the individual craftsmen who were employed there from the mid-1780s - some of which were addressed 'To the Honble. Mrs Leigh' as it was she who directed the refurbishment.

    Similar solid urns are discussed in G. Bernard Hughes, 'Derbyshire Blue - John', Country Life, 3 December 1953.

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    Provenance

    Almost certainly acquired by James Henry Leigh (d.1823) for Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire in the 1780s.
    Thence by descent with the Lords Leigh, Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire; sold Christie's house sale, 15-16 October 1981, lot 27.
    Acquired from Christopher Gibbs, 9 December 1981.