Dining that doesn’t date
A set of three George II mahogany side chairs. Mid-18th century, possibly Scottish. Estimate: £3,000-5,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
When it comes to mixing old and new, the immense variety of antique chairs, tables and sideboards on the market comes with endless possibilities for interior design.
Whilst scale might be an important factor when selecting dining furniture, 18th and 19th century designs offer some flexibility, with cabinet-makers of the period having often worked to produce pieces that make the most effective use of space. If the room you’re decorating is in a contemporary apartment rather than an 18th century pile, consider an extending dining table with removal leaves, minimal pedestals, or a side chair without arms. The example above can easily slip neatly beneath a tabletop.
Vibrant timbers, such as mahogany, can lend a rich colour to any interior, and make an ideal frame for seats re-upholstered in fabric with bold, contemporary designs. The chair here comes with a Chinese lattice back, a style which shot to popularity in the latter half of the 18th century, when chinoiserie — a style featuring Chinese motifs — became a trademark of well-known makers including Thomas Chippendale.
A Victorian gilt-brass striking table clock with moonphase, calendar and barometer. Attributed to Thomas Cole, retailed by Hunt & Roskell, London, circa 1850. Estimate: £10,000-20,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
Mobile and practical, clocks are an ideal way of incorporating traditional decorative arts into a contemporary interior.
With strong architectural details, this gilt model is a work of art in its own right. Believed to have been presented to the Turkish ambassador by Queen Victoria. It was later presented its current owner’s grandfather, a jeweller to the Sultan of Turkey.
Attributed to maker Thomas Cole, this clock was originally sold by one of London’s leading jewellers Hunt & Roskell, who exhibited Cole’s work as part of the city’s 1851 Great Exhibition
Though their primary purpose is functional, Christie’s and other auction houses cannot always guarantee clocks such as these are in full working order, so it is always advisable to have the movement checked and serviced by a professional restorer.
Pattern and texture
An English cream linen and silk damask tablecloth. Designed by Walter Crane, circa 1895. Estimate: £2,000-4,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
Incredibly versatile in their use, textiles can provide an excellent means of injecting luxury into an interior, and are often the ideal complement to a minimalist setting.
This damask tablecloth brings pattern and texture to any setting, its fluid design suggesting a sense of movement. Woven in lustrous silk, the double-sided fabric features scenes representing the five senses, appearing in a subtle sheen on one side, and in a soft matte on the reverse.
Produced from the 15th century in the Netherlands, damask tablecloths and napkins found renewed popularity during the Arts and Crafts movement, with artists eschewing mass production in favour of handcrafted arts.
This tablecloth was produced at the end of the 19th century by celebrated Arts and Crafts designer Walter Crane; though Crane produced ceramics and wallpaper, he considered textiles to be the most important of all of his creations, because of their intimate association with everyday life.
The answer to open space
A William and Mary gilt-gesso cheval fire-screen. Late 17th century. Estimate: £2,500-4,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
Pleasingly portable, screens are an excellent way of transforming and reviving an interior, with screens featuring lacquer or gilt wood accents — such as the example above — bringing character and colour.
A creative alternative to wallpaper or conventional paintings, screens become a lively accent when displayed flat against a wall, and can also be used to define and break up spaces within larger rooms or open-plan spaces.
Produced in the 17th century, this William and Mary gilt gesso fire screen is conceived in the Franco-Dutch style of designer Daniel Marot, whose designs would prove to be incredibly influential for English cabinet makers in the Royal court. Featuring columnar supports and a pierced stretcher, the piece relates to a screen commissioned for Hampton Court Palace, dated circa 1700.
Mirror past tastes in a modern setting
A Regency giltwood and ebonised convex mirror. Early 19th century. Estimate: £3,000-5,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
Mirrors are perfect for opening up an interior and creating the illusion of space, reflecting light and giving an impression of depth.
When hanging a mirror, consider what it will be directly opposite — it can be interesting to use the reflection to highlight a facing artwork, architectural details, or event the landscape outside a window.
This mirror dates from the highly inventive Regency period, which saw designers and furniture makers adopt and adapt motifs from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Flanked with gilt crocodiles and intertwining snakes, the piece reflects a taste for all things Egyptian — a trend which followed Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign and Nelson’s subsequent victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.
A pair of George III cut-glass twin-light candelabra. In the manner of Parker & Perry, circa 1800. Estimate: £6,000-9,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
If you’re keen to make a dramatic statement while taking up minimal space, consider chandeliers, candelabra, lanterns and other statement lights.
Placed in an entrance hall, a grand chandelier can set the tone for the rest of a home, while a pair of porcelain vases, mounted as lamps, can make a sculptural statement whilst bringing an accent of colour.
Lights incorporating crystal and cut glass refract and disperse light to atmospheric effect, such as this pair of elegant candelabra, which features elegant cascades of facetted drops. Dated to circa 1800, they relate to the designs of the preeminent 19th century glass manufacturers, Parker and Perry, who provided lighting for Royal residences and the nobility.
A pair of Irish George III harewood, sycamore, holly and marquetry demi-lune commodes. Attributed to William Moore of Dublin, circa 1780. Estimate: £150,000-250,000. This piece is offered in The English Collector sale on 19 November at Christie’s in London
Cupboards, commodes, bureau cabinets and secretaires are multi-purpose objects that can serve as statement furniture while providing convenient storage for anything from linen to barware and china.
Pairs of cabinets are particularly useful to anchor other pieces within a room, and small models are ideal as bedside tables. Larger versions, such as this pair of semi-elliptical neoclassical commodes, can create a focal point, drawing attention to a specific section of a room.
These cabinets are attributed to William Moore, the foremost cabinet-maker and purveyor of ‘Inlaid Work’ in Ireland in the latter part of the 18th century. The warmth of ground veneers — such as satinwood or the harewood used here — can soften severely minimalist interiors, while marquetry brings colour and pattern.
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