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A GEORGE II PINE CONVERSATION STOOL
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
A GEORGE II PINE CONVERSATION STOOL

CIRCA 1740, DESIGNED BY WILLIAM KENT, AND POSSIBLY EXECUTED BY JAMES RICHARDS

Details
A GEORGE II PINE CONVERSATION STOOL
CIRCA 1740, DESIGNED BY WILLIAM KENT, AND POSSIBLY EXECUTED BY JAMES RICHARDS
The rectangular seat upholstered with associated foliate gros-point needlework above a frieze carved with arched panels and beading, on five scrolled legs heavily carved with oak and acanthus and joined by similar swags, the central leg headed by a female mask variously chiselled to the underside of the feet, the left side swag probably Regency, originally gilt and the present varnished finish probably 19th century
17 in. (43 cm.) high; 50.1/2 in. (128 cm.) wide; 21 in. (53 cm.) deep
Provenance
Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney of Castlemaine (d. 1750) and by descent at Wanstead until 1822 when included in the George Robins house sale, 10 June-23 July 1822, listed on p. 200 of the sale catalogue, Principal Grand Floor, No. 35, 'Grand Saloon’, lot 7, where acquired by 'Gazelee' for £6.12.6; this was either George Gasley, 'antique furniture dealer’ of 93 Newman Street, London, or Sir Stephen Gaselee.
Acquired before 1942 by the family of the present owner, and thence by descent.

Literature
Mr. Robins, A Catalogue of the Magnificent and Costly Furniture of the Princely Mansion, Wanstead House, on Monday, 10th June 1822, and 31 following Days, Sixteenth Day's Sale, 1 July 1822, lot 7.
Exhibited
One of the companion stools exhibited 'William Kent, Designing Georgian Britain’, Victoria & Albert Museum, 22 March-13 July 2014.
Special Notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Lot Essay

This magnificent carved banquette seat is conceived in the George II ‘Britannia Romanum’ fashion promoted by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (d. 1753), and designed by his protégé, William Kent (d. 1748). It formed part of an important matching set comprising banquette and four stools commissioned by Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney of Castlemaine (d. 1750) to furnish the 'Drawing Room' of his recently built Roman-style villa at Wanstead, Essex.
The pattern derived from Kent's 'love seats' or Venus-headed settees, intended for Wanstead's 'Banqueting Hall', and evolved from the antique or Renaissance sgabello seats associated with Inigo Jones (d.1652). The banquette sold from the 1822 Wanstead House sale, from the 'Grand Saloon', lot 7, ‘A massive rich carved and gilt Conversation Stool, with bordered squab, in beautiful crimson damask, edged with silk cord, the panel handsomely ornamented with female head in the centre, and acorn festoons, on raffle-leaf scroll truss feet and balls, extra crimson ground chints case, lined white calico, 4-feet-3 long, by 1-foot-10 wide’ (Mr. Robins, Catalogue ...). It was sold to 'Gazelee' for £6.12.6; this was either George Gasley, 'antique furniture dealer’ of 93 Newman Street, London, active in the 1820s-30s, or Sir Stephen Gaselee (d.1839), Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and governor of the Foundling Hospital, of 13 Montagu Place, Russell Square and 77 Guildford Street (directories of the period record Sir Stephen as the sole person with this unusual surname).
The remaining four stools from the set, lots 8-11, measure ‘3-feet by 1-foot-10’ (lot 8 sold for £6, lot 9 for £5, and lots 10 and 11 together for £11.16). Two of these were purchased by the connoisseur and Wardour Street 'curiosity dealer', John Swaby, whose own collection was sold from Torriano Place, Kentish Town, by Mr. Phillips in March 1860; while one other was purchased in the name of 'German’. One of the stools subsequently sold from the collection of Graham Baron Ash, Esq., Wingfield Castle, Norfolk, Christie's house sale, 30 May 1980, lot 182, and thereafter Christie’s London, 24 April 2008, lot 340, £162,500 (inc. premium). This latter stool is illustrated in Ed. S. Weber, William Kent, Designing Georgian Britain (New Haven and London, 2014, p. 457, fig. 17.16, and pp. 474-475), the book published in association with the current William Kent exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (22 March-13 July 2014), and is included in the exhibition.
The scroll legs carved with acanthus and fish scales linked by acanthus and oak festoons of the present banquette and stools corresponds closely to a set of Kent settees from Wanstead House, now at Wilton House, Salisbury, purchased by the 11th Earl of Pembroke and his second wife, the Duchess, Catherine Woronzow, from the 1822 sale (op. cit., p. 474, and p. 454, fig. 17.10).
Although there is no record of the cabinet-maker at Wanstead House, James Richards, the principal carver of the Office of Works and a frequent Kent collaborator, has been suggested as the craftsman of another set of early seat-furniture designed by Kent at Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Another potential candidate for the Wanstead set is Thomas Roberts, the Royal chair-maker, who also supplied upholstery at Houghton.
A related pair of giltwood stools attributed to Kent and with confronting sphinxes, sold , The Property of a Nobleman, Christie's, London, 17 March 1977, lot 12..

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