These robust mahogany stools from a set of four stools and a pair of settees were commissioned by Sir John Dutton, 2nd Bt. (1684-1743) for his newly refurbished dining-room at Lodge Park, Sherborne, Gloucestershire.1 The stools are en suite with the pair of ‘Settees’, for which a design survives by William Kent (1685 - 1748) the Rome-trained artist, protégé of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and ‘Master Carpenter’ of George II’s Office of Works and were supplied by James Moore the Younger (d. 1734), cabinet and chair-maker to Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-51). Together with other furniture executed by Moore for Sir John Dutton these stools, and the corresponding settees, are fully-documented in the Sherborne papers and thus represent an important addition to the history of early 18th century English furniture-making since they demonstrate craftsmen like Moore working faithfully to detailed designs by Kent.
JAMES MOORE AND WILLIAM KENT
Between 1728 and 1730, Sir John Dutton instigated a partial-refurbishment of his country seat at Sherborne, Gloucestershire. The principal reception rooms of Sherborne House were remodelled, a new parlour and bedrooms were added, and Lodge Park, a two-storey hunting and banqueting lodge in the parkland, designed by Nicholas Stone or Balthasar Gerbier and constructed in circa 1634, was renovated. Among the Sherborne papers an account for Sir John Dutton, dated 29 October 1728, reveals Kent’s contribution to these improvements:
‘To Mr Kent for his trouble making Plans for me at my Lodge & House £31-10-0’.
Kent was also, undoubtedly, invited to design the mahogany furniture including a set of four stools, of which two are offered here, and a matching pair of settees, the latter, now at Temple Newsam, Leeds.2
A later account book for Sir John Dutton records payments to Moore for a consignment of furniture to Kent’s designs including these stools, and the conforming settees:
To Mr Moore for 2 Mahogany Settees for ye Dining Room at ye Lodge Carved 30-0-0
To Ditto for 4 Mahogany Stools Carved for ye Dining Room at ye Lodge 20-0-0’
The account also reveals that Moore worked with the carver James Richards (1721-67) on this commission. Richards, like Kent, worked for the Royal Office of Works as a ‘Master Sculptor & Carver in Wood’, and may have been proposed to Moore by Kent.
‘To Ditto [Mr Moore] making 2 Tables Frames for ye Carver for 2 Marble Tables at ye Lodge 5-10-0
To Mr Richards Carving ye two Table Frames above 13-10-0’
Few of Kent’s original designs and drawings for furniture survive but a design for a ‘Settee’ by Kent, published in John Vardy’s Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. Wm. Kent, 1744, plate 42, is virtually identical to the settees supplied by Moore to Sir John Dutton, and interestingly Dutton owned a copy of this volume.3 The design was evidently popular because similar models are at Raynham Hall and Houghton Hall, Norfolk.4
These stools were almost certainly modelled on another design by Kent from the same series as they were intended to complement the settees. Moreover, as Kent customarily integrated interiors and furniture it seems likely he conceived the complete dining-room at Lodge Park. The carved Venus scallop shell displayed on the pediment of the settee has been transferred to the apron of the stools and is flanked by ‘S’ scrolls and acanthus. Like the settees, the stools have a seat of solid mahogany with fluted frieze rails and corbeled legs with leaf carvings.5 One long (reverse) rail of each stool remains undecorated suggesting they were intended to stand against the wall of the dining-room at Lodge Park.
Kent probably first met Moore the Younger when he was in partnership with his father, James Moore the Elder, Royal cabinet-maker to George I, while working for James Brydges, Duke of Chandos (1673-1744) at Cannons, Middlesex. As Queen Anne's Paymaster-General under the Duke of Marlborough's patronage, Lord Chandos was among the richest men of his day, using his considerable fortune to furnish his mansion with such extravagance and taste that the author Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) described it as: ‘the finest house in England’. Kent was disposed to employ the same craftsmen on his commissions, a practice in accordance with the Royal Office of Works to which he was associated. Thus Moore the Elder, and presumably his son, carried out Kent’s designs for furniture in ‘the new apartment at Kensington Palace’ between 1727 and 1729, and Moore the Younger and Kent, as shown above, were employed at Sherborne. Furthermore, Moore the Younger and Kent both worked for Frederick, Prince of Wales; the former between 1732-34, and the latter, referred to by the Prince as ‘our architect’, on the design for the Royal Barge.6
Little further is known of Moore the Younger: when his father died in 1726, he received as an inheritance: ‘my materials of Trade, namely Wood and Tools at ye election of my wife Elizabeth, if she follows the trade to pay him one hundred pounds and she keeps the materialls’. His widow evidently abandoned the business because the family partnership with the looking-glass manufacturer John Gumley ceased after her husband’s death, and the entire stock-in-trade was auctioned. On 1 July 1728, the Daily Post and The Daily Journal advertised the forthcoming sale of Moore the Elder’s effects as follows: ‘The Entire Stock of Mr James Moor, Cabinet-Maker to his late Majesty and an eminent Milliner, both deceas’d, consisting of the finest old Japan and India Cabinets, Screens, Chests, Tables, etc. Walnut-tree, Mahogany, and other fine Woods, Book-Cases, Drawers, Buroes, Desks, Tables and Chairs, with Several Pieces of Fine Hollands, Cambrics, Muslins, Damask and Diaper Table Linnen, new and fashionable’. The notice offers a fascinating description of an early 18th century cabinet workshop.
Sherborne House has been the family seat of the Duttons since Thomas Dutton bought the estate in 1551. The house received Queen Elizabeth for two state visits in 1574 and 1592. The house passed to his son, John 'Crump' Dutton (d. 1656), so called due to his hunched back, a supporter and close friend of Oliver Cromwell. It was 'Crump' Dutton who modified Sherborne House and had Lodge Park and its surrounding grounds constructed. Lodge Park, until recently thought to have been designed by Inigo Jones, was based on Jones's Banqueting House, and was intended as a hunting/banqueting lodge for deer-coursing (the ancient sport of watching deer-hounds chase stags). His great nephew, Sir John Dutton, 2nd Bt., hired landscape architect Charles Bridgeman to remodel some of the surrounding land while Kent was called in to renovate Sherborne House and Lodge Park. Thereafter, Lodge Park underwent various renovations, even as recently as 1960, with those carried out for Charles Dutton, 7th Lord Sherborne. When he died in 1982, Lodge Park and the Sherborne estate were left to the National Trust, who have restored Lodge Park to its original format.7 Sherborne House itself was sold in the 1970s.
LATER HISTORY OF THE MOORE FURNITURE
In 1940, the army occupied Sherborne House, and Lord Sherborne was obliged to sell some furniture, which had come to him by descent in the Dutton family. This included some of the Moore furniture: the pair of settees, the set of four stools including the pair offered here, and six carved hall chairs from an original set of nine. This furniture was purchased by Leonard Knight Ltd., who sold the pair of settees to Temple Newsam in 1943; at the same time, Temple Newsam photographed the rest of the furniture to preserve its record in the museum files. The stools and chairs were acquired by Lord Wilton for Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire, but in the 1950s, these were sold when he moved to Ramsbury Manor. The set of four stools was split into pairs: the present pair was purchased by Benjamin Sonnenberg (sold ‘The Benjamin Sonnenberg Collection, Sotheby’s, New York, 5-9 June 1979, lot 1681), and the other pair is now at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (Museum no. 979.34 1-2). One pair of chairs was in the collection of Peter Palumbo, London when Christopher Gilbert wrote his article on this furniture, another pair was offered Christie’s, New York, 27 October 2006, lot 50, and sold Christie’s, New York, 17 October 2008, lot 118 ($72,000 sold after sale). The whereabouts of the final pair is unknown at present.
RELATED FURNITURE BY WILLIAM KENT
A number of examples of related hall-settees and hall-bergères are known, all undoubtedly based upon the original Kent design, and largely recorded in houses where Kent was involved in remodelling and interior decoration.
A single chair was designed by Kent and his patron Lord Burlington for Chiswick House, Middlesex, and later removed to Chatsworth, Derbyshire. This chair was sold by Christie's from the collection of Christopher Gibbs Esq., The Manor House at Clifton Hampden, Christie's house sale, 25-26 September 2000, lot 9 (£141,250 including premium).
A set of four settees designed by Henry Flitcroft (d. 1769), and executed by George Nix was supplied in 1728 for John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu for the Banqueting Hall of Montagu House, Whitehall.8 A further suite of six settees based on the pattern was provided for Sir Robert Walpole's Norfolk mansion, Houghton Hall9 and have been attributed to the workshops of James Richards, who executed numerous architectural carvings as well as furniture for Royal commissions designed by Kent.10 The Sherborne settees, as well as the Houghton example, have large-scale acanthus-carved aprons beneath the seat.
At Holkham Hall, Norfolk, a pair of related double-seat settees was commissioned for the Palladio-inspired hall, which was designed by Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester (d. 1748) and William Kent. Built in the 1740s under the direction of the architect Matthew Brettingham Senior (d. 1769), the hall formed part of the 'Grand Apartment', which though roofed in 1749, only had its furnishing completed around 1760 by the Countess of Leicester. A further version of the model designed by William Kent in 1720-25 is at Raynham Hall, Norfolk.11
1. C. Gilbert, ‘James Moore the Younger and William Kent at Sherborne House’, Burlington Magazine, vol. III, no. 792, March 1969, p. 149, figs. 53 – 54.
2. C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, vol. II, Leeds, 1978, no. 324.
3. S. Weber, ‘Kent and the Georgian Baroque style in Furniture: Domestic Commissions’, William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, New Haven and London, 2013, p. 205.
4. ibid., p. 487.
5. ibid. pp. 487- 488.
6. G. Beard, ‘William Kent and the Cabinet-Makers’, Burlington Magazine, vol. 117, no. 873, December 1975, p. 868.
7. M. Miers, 'Lodge Park, Gloucestershire', Country Life, 18 May 2000, pp. 82 - 85.
8. T. Murdoch (ed.), Boughton House: The English Versailles, London, 1992, pp. 134-135, pl. 133.
9. J. Cornforth, 'Houghton Hall, Norfolk', Country Life, 28 March 1996, pp. 52-59 and fig. 2.
10. A. Moore, Houghton Hall, London, 1996, p. 116.
11. H. Cescinsky, The Old-World House: its Furniture and Decoration, vol. II, New York, 1924, p. 119.