A CHARLES II IRISH SILVER SIX PART DRESSING-TABLE SERVICE
A CHARLES II IRISH SILVER SIX PART DRESSING-TABLE SERVICE
A CHARLES II IRISH SILVER SIX PART DRESSING-TABLE SERVICE
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A CHARLES II IRISH SILVER SIX PART DRESSING-TABLE SERVICE
8 More
PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED NEW ENGLAND COLLECTION
A CHARLES II IRISH SILVER SIX PART DRESSING-TABLE SERVICE

MARK OF JOHN SEGAR, DUBLIN, 1685

Details
A CHARLES II IRISH SILVER SIX PART DRESSING-TABLE SERVICE
MARK OF JOHN SEGAR, DUBLIN, 1685
A casket
Octagonal, with reeded rims, the hinged cover flat-chased with a Chinoiserie scene depicting the arrival of an nobleman on horseback, preceded by a drummer on horseback and attendant bearing a standard and greeted by a further gentleman with a fan on a balcony, all within an architectural landscape, a vacant ribbon-tied shield cartouche to the right corner, framed by a stylized leaf-tip border, the sides flat-chased with various exotic birds and foliage, on openwork supports cast as leaves and scrolls, marked on interior of cover and base
3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm.) high, 10 ½ in. (26.6 cm.) wide, 8 in. (20.3 cm.) deep; 49 oz. (1,524 gr.)

A pincushion
Rectangular, with high domed cover fitted with a pin cushion, reeded borders, all sides flat-chased with exotic birds amongst foliage, raised on four dolphin head feet, marked inside high domed cover and base, and marked on panel inside cover
4 ½ in. (11.5 cm.) high, 7 ¾ in. (19.5 cm.) wide, 4 ½ in. (11.5 cm.) deep; 33 oz. 10 dwt. (1,043 gr.) gross weight

A pair of boxes and covers
Octagonal, with reeded rims, each detachable cover flat-chased with a Chinoiserie scene, the first with a lady on a balcony greeting her suitor below and with dragon drinking in a high fountain and birds perched above, the second with figure standing on a pillar holding a fan, an accomplice gesturing to him from below and blossom-hung arch beside, each box further flat chased on all sides with exotic birds within foliage, each with a vacant shields, each marked inside cover and base, each with assay scrape underneath
2 ½ in. (6.4 cm.) high, 4 7/8 in. (12.5 cm.) wide, 4 7/8 in. (12.5 cm.) deep; 32 oz. 6 dwt. (1,004 gr.)

A clothes brush
Triangular form with baluster finial, each side flat-chased with a differing flower garland and with vacant shield cartouche, apparently unmarked
7 in. (18 cm.) long; 2 oz. 4 dwt. (69 gr.) gross weight

A hairbrush
Octagonal, with reeded rims, the cover flat-chased with a figure within an architectural landscape and with vacant shield cartouche, marked on cover
3 3/8 in. (8.5 cm.) long; 3 oz. 8 dwt. (106 gr.) gross weight

Together with a letter, circa 1930, from Carrington and Co., Regent Street, London, Jewellers and Silversmiths to Mr. Richard Cushing Paine Sr. (1893-1966) of Boston, Massachusetts which recounts the known provenance of the service.
134 oz. (4,170 gr.) total gross weight
Provenance
By tradition, an "old" family in the Mullingar area of Ireland, probably the Handcocks of Moydrum Castle.
Stored at the La Touche Bank, Dublin just prior to the 1789 Rebellion, where it was safeguarded for approximately 100 years until La Touche Bank was taken over by the Bank of Ireland circa 1870.
Left Ireland circa 1920-30 with the family from Mullingar after their home was burnt during the Irish Civil War (1922-23).
With Carrington and Co., Regent St., London, circa 1930.
Acquired by Richard Cushing Paine Sr. (1893-1966), Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1930, by descent to his son-in-law
Dr. John Constable (1927-2016), Massachusetts and thence by descent.

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Lot Essay

A Rare Survival
The existence of silver with Chinoiserie flat-chasing, marked for Dublin is extremely rare. This Irish dressing-table service is the most complete example of its kind known to exist. Silver flat-chased with Chinoiserie scenes was produced mainly in the decade following 1675 and is usually marked for London. The rediscovery of the present group considerably increases the examples of extant Irish Chinoiserie silver as well as silver by this important Dublin maker. A letter (see illustration) has been recently rediscovered in the Constable family archives which sheds light on the history of this service. Written circa 1930 by Carrington and Co. of Regent St., London who were Jewellers and Silvermiths to the Crown from the Reign of Queen Victoria to that of George V, it reads:

"The history of this set is as far as we know, as follows: Made by John Segar, Dublin, 1685. It has always been in the possession of an old Mullingar family whose house was burned down during the recent trouble in Ireland and they were ordered to leave the Country. Living now near London, and having no family, they decided to dispose of the Set rather than have the responsibility and risk of burglary. It is interesting that just prior to the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Set was deposited in La Touche’s Bank, Dublin, where it laid for over 100 years, the receipt being lost and the Set was only discovered when La Touche’s were taken over by the Bank of Ireland."

This letter states that Carrington and Co., acquired the service directly from the "old Mullingar" family for whom it was likely made. Mullingar is located in county Westmeath in Ireland. The area is located in the midlands of the country. This "old Mullingar" family were custodians of the service for centuries. Carrington and Co., sold the service to the ancestor of the New England family who are now offering it for sale. Therefore, it would appear that the present service has only ever been in the possession of two families. As the La Touche bank in Dublin was taken over by the Bank of Ireland circa 1870, the service was in storage for one hundred years. As a result the condition of the flat-chasing has remained remarkable crisp. The letter also places the service in the context of modern Irish history. The "recent trouble in Ireland" referred to in the letter is that of the Irish Revolutionary Period of 1919–1923, when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) embarked on the of burning of many Anglo-Irish Country houses (or Big Houses as they were known). It appears that this service was rescued from one such home as it was razed to the ground.

The Splendor of Seventeenth Century Chinoiserie Flat-chasing
Vivid depictions of Chinoiserie scenes are as compelling to the modern eye, with its ready knowledge of other cultures through travel and film as they must have been for Europeans of 1680s, for whom Eastern cultures were but a dream in the mind’s eye. This Chinoiserie dressing-table service, marked for Dublin, 1685 is both an early and incredibly rare example of the style. The East India Company imported goods from the East into big urban ports like London and this was one major way that people learned about far away lands. The fact that this service, with Chinoiserie iconography, was made for a family in the Irish midlands, a landlocked area without access to such ports, makes its existence all the more remarkable.

Knowledge of China and Japan for the citizens of Ireland and Britain in the 17th century was stitched together from traveler’s written accounts and engravings, goods including lacquer and porcelain shipped home by the East India Company, the taste of expensive imported tea and plays staged in London theatres. Likewise, the sources inspiring Chinoiserie flat-chasing are a varied mélange.

John Nieuhoff’s An Embassy to the Grand Tartar Cham, Emperor of China, Amsterdam, 1665 is generally considered to have been a prime source for the Chinoiserie flat-chasing found on 17th century silver. Nieuhoff’s recounts tales of his travels, anecdotes and observations of places visited and people encountered. Nieuhoff’s text is interspersed with frequent illustrations. While chinoiserie flat-chasing departs from the Nieuhoff illustrations in the spirit of their draughtmanship, they are clearly connected by their themes. Philippa Glanville links the dolphin fountain troupe (one can be seen on the cover of the casket on scroll feet) to the elaborate stage settings of such plays as Elkanah Settle’s The Conquest of China by the Tartars (June and July 1675) and The Indian Queen of 1664 (See P. Glanville, The Jaime Ortiz-Patiño Collection, Sotheby’s, New York, 21 May 1992, introduction). The inclusion of architectural elements on the present service is rare. Other examples of architecture in Chinoiserie flat-chasing do exist but are more usually more colloquial. The buildings to the top of the casket seem to recall an Eastern Orthodox church or a Turkish-style mosque, perhaps from “Tartary” around Ukraine or Southern Russia. The Chinoiserie flat-chasing on each piece of the present dressing-service seems to suggest a specific narrative.

John Segar: The Dublin Master of Stuart Chinoiserie
John Segar was recorded working on Skinner Row, Dublin as a Freeman between 1679-1686. The Dublin goldsmith hall records record Segar as apprentice to John Sterne. Confusion has arisen in the precise identification of the JS within circle of pellets. While this JS mark is most usually ascribed to John Segar, several other maker’s with initials JS were active in Dublin in the late 17th century. None were apparently as prolific as Segar.

A pair of candlesticks with octagonal bases (see image nearby) and a mirror, mark of John Segar, Dublin, 1685, each with Chinoiserie flat-chasing are in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland. (see I. Delamer and C. O’Brien, 500 Years of Irish Silver, Wicklow, 2005, pp. 98 and 99, no. 14.1 and .2 and Ian Pickford, ed., Jackson's Silver & Gold Marks of England, Scotland and Ireland, 1989, p. 626 where described as “important”). The JS mark on the candlesticks and mirror is identical to the mark on the present lot. The candlesticks are marked with maker’s marks and date letter. The mirror is marked four times with maker’s mark. Like the present lot, both the candlesticks and mirror do not bear a cypher or arms. Striking similarities in the hand of the chasing between the National Museum pieces and the present lot are evident. A comparison of the figures, foliage and birds on the National Museum's pieces and the present lot reveal a close relationship. For example, fluffy clouds of cotton, formed of clusters of graduated pricks appear beside columns on the Irish National Museum candlesticks and on the casket of the present lot. There is no doubt that the National Museum of Ireland's mirror and candlesticks were once part of the service presented here.

Other extant works by Segar include a two-handled porringer with chinoiserie flat-chasing, mark of John Segar, Dublin, 1685, is in a private collection and was sold Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard; Christie’s, New York, 18 October 1995, lot 55. The porringer is engraved “Ex dono John Wynne Kt. and Baronet” and has the arms of Wynne of Gwedir for John Wynne, Bt. (d. without issue 1719) who was heir of Eyton Evans, Esq. of Wynnistay, Denbighshire and the porringer was with Firestone & Parson, Boston, 1969. Another porringer with Wynne arms (probably the same) was with How of Edinburgh, 1969 (See How advertisement, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 111, No. 790, Jan. 1969, p. XXXIV, illus.). The cover of a porringer or cup with Chinoiserie flat-chasing, mark of JS attributed to John Segar, 1680 was sold Estate of Tony Sweeney; Adams, Dublin, 12 May 2013, lot 141. At the time of its sale the cover was considered to be the only Irish Chinoiserie silver with a Charles II date letter.

The Destruction of the Irish Country House
During the Irish revolutionary period of 1919–1923, at least 275 Big Houses, as they are known in Ireland, were deliberately burned down or bombed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Most destruction occurred during the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. The majority of these houses, belonged to the Anglo-Irish aristocracy of the Protestant Ascendancy. By the twentieth century the Big House in Ireland had become a symbol of opposition to Irish independence. This was because the Anglo-Irish class, who were the majority owners of such houses, were generally opposed to the notions of Irish independence and often held key positions in the British Administration of Ireland. Irish nationalists maintained that the land of Irishmen had been illegally stolen from them by the landowning aristocracy, who had mostly arrived in Ireland as Protestant settlers of The Crown during the late 16th and 17th centuries. Irish Big Houses, at the administrative center of such estates, were therefore targeted. According to a letter, written in the 1930s by London silver dealer Carrington and Co. who sold the dressing-table service to Richard Cushing Paine Sr., the service left Ireland with “an old Mullingar family” who were ordered to leave after their house was burned down. This family could be one of a number of families from the Mullingar area of Ireland whose houses suffered a similar fate. One such family is the Handcocks of Moydrum Castle. Moydrum Castle is located near Athlone in co. Westmeath close to the southern tip of Lough Ree and within a forty minute drive of Mullingar town. The lands of Moydrum were granted to the Handcock family, originally from Devon in England, during the Cromwellian plantations of Ireland in the 17th century. From then on the family remained one of the most prominent landowning dynasties and landlords in the area. William Handcock, 1st Baron Castlemaine built Moydrum Castle in 1814. By the 1870s the estate was 11,444 acres. The IRA burnt Moydrum in 1921. Lord Castlemaine’s family relocated to Surrey. The house was never again occupied and the land was redistributed under the Irish Land Commission. The Handcock family are known to have had a collection of silver. During the burning of Moydrum, records suggest that a quantity of household furnishings, including some silver was stolen from the house. Should the present service have been part of the collection at Moydrum Castle, it is possible that certain items of the service were separated from the present group at that time. Moydrum found fame one more time in its relatively short history as the castle was featured on the cover of U2’s ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ LP.

An American Modern Provenance: Richard Cushing Paine Sr. (1893-1966) and Dr. John Constable (1927-2016) of Massachusetts
Richard Paine Sr. who acquired this lot in the 30s was the great-great-great grandson of Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814), signor of the Declaration of Independence. The Paine family have been in New England since 1621. Other members of the Paine family have distinguished themselves in the early history of America. In the 19th and 20th centuries the Paine family have been supporters of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through bequest and loan.

Dr. John Constable (1927-2016), who married Richard Paine’s daughter Sylvia in 1957, inherited various pieces of silver from Paine’s collection including the present lot. Inspired by Paine's acquisition of this exceptional dressing-table service, Dr. Constable added other London silver to the group with similarly captivating Chinoiserie flat-chasing. Dr. Constable has been described by those who knew him as a Renaissance man. Through his work as a plastic surgeon, specializing in burns, Dr. Constable travelled the world and was responsible for the training of many physicians in Southeast Asia. Dr. Constable was an early member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Dr. Constable was an early representative in America for Christie’s. His expansive interests ranged from natural history to the arts and Sherlock Holmes. Part of the Paine/Constable family collection of silver will be offered Christie’s, New York, 10 April 2018 lots 215-231 and also lot 9 of this sale.


We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Thomas Sinsteden, whose knowledge of Irish silver has been so valuable in the preparation of this catalogue entry.

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