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A GEORGE II MAHOGANY BOOKCASE CABINET
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY BOOKCASE CABINET
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY BOOKCASE CABINET
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY BOOKCASE CABINET
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A GEORGE II MAHOGANY BOOKCASE CABINET

CIRCA 1750

Details
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY BOOKCASE CABINET
CIRCA 1750
With swan's neck pediment enclosing a finial formed as a parcel-gilt coat-of-arms with dolphin above a rope band in shield-shaped cartouche issuing pendant fruit, flowers and leaves, above quarter-panel glazed doors enclosing four adjustable shelves, the lower portion with two slides above paneled doors enclosing pigeon holes and four graduated drawers, on plinth base with bracket feet, the reverse inscribed ALTMAYER X CAVE in chalk
117 ½ in. (298.5 cm.) high, 74 in. (188 cm.) wide, 20 ¼ in. (51.5 cm.) deep
Provenance
Possibly commissioned by the Courtenays of Powderham Castle, Devon, or the Godolphins of Rialton and Helston, Cornwall, both of whom bear the dolphin naiant crest.
Acquired from F. & C. H. Cave Ltd, Northampton at the Autumn Antiques Fair, Chelsea, 1959 (illustrated in the catalogue, p. 25).
Special Notice

Please note lots marked with a square will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) on the last day of the sale. Lots are not available for collection at Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services until after the third business day following the sale. All lots will be stored free of charge for 30 days from the auction date at Christie’s Rockefeller Center or Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Operation hours for collection from either location are from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm, Monday-Friday. After 30 days from the auction date property may be moved at Christie’s discretion. Please contact Post-Sale Services to confirm the location of your property prior to collection. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information.

Condition Report

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Lot Essay

The bookcase, severely architectural in its form and details, is reflective of the Palladian taste promoted by William Kent and prevailing in Britain from the 1730s and the following decades. The cresting’s swagged armorial cartouche bears a close resemblance to a door-case ‘exactly after the established rules of Palladio’ in Isaac Ware’s A Complete Body of Architecture (1756) (reproduced in F. Lenygon, Decoration in England, London, 1914, fig. 100). An overmantel designed by Kent for the dining room at Rousham Hall, Norfolk features a similar crest (M. Jourdain, The Work of William Kent, London, 1948, fig. 70).

The bookcase proudly displays the nascent dolphin crest borne by a number of families including the Kennedys (Ailsa) of Culzean and Cassilis, the Courtenays (Devon) of Powderham and the Godolphins of Rialton and Helston, Cornwall. By virtue of their position at court, the Godolphins are a likely candidate to have commissioned the bookcase. The 2nd Earl Godolphin (1678-1766), Cofferer to Her Majesty, was appointed Groom of the Stole and First Gentleman of the Bedchamber in 1723 and Governor of the Scilly Isles in 1733. The 2nd Earl’s only surviving daughter and eventual sole heiress, Mary, married the 4th Duke of Leeds of Hornby Castle, Yorkshire in 1740. The contents of Hornby were dispersed between 1920 and 1930 with the remaining contents sold by Knight Frank & Rutley, 2-11 June 1930.

Similarly, the Courtenay family must be considered in light of the documented bookcases at Powderham Castle, dated 1740, which bear the signature of cabinet-maker John Channon. The Powderham bookcases (whose dolphin-carved plinths were added in the 19th century) feature crestings of similarly unusual tall profile; their floral embellishments and brass inlay can also be noted (C. Gilbert and T. Murdoch, ‘Channon Revisited’, Furniture History, 1994, p. 66, fig. 1). Channon is recognized (among others) for his use of engraved brass inlay, and the beautifully engraved escutcheons on the Altmayer cabinet with their fruit-filled baskets compare to a plaque on a bureau cabinet now at Temple Newsam House, Leeds although the spare use is unlike other pieces attributable to the maker (see C. Gilbert and T. Murdoch, John Channon and brass-inlaid furniture, London, 1993, pp. 65-66, fig. 60).
Stylistically, the bookcase also corresponds to the work of cabinet-maker William Hallett (d. 1781), first recorded at Great Newport Street, Long Acre in 1735 and continuing into the early 1750s at St. Martin’s Lane working in conjunction with William Vile. There is a commonality to the work of Hallett and his protégé, often confused. The latter supplied at Royal bookcase in 1762-67 (now at the Victoria and Albert Museum) with triple layers of carved borders that compare to the present piece.

Other families with the dolphin naiant crest are: Durham, Arnold, Arnold-Forster, Askeam (or Askeham), Bertwhistle, Birtwesill, Byrtwhysell, Brown, Carminow (or Carmynow or Carmenow), Cassels, Colston, Coulson (or Coulston), Courtenay, Curtis, Delves, Fawcet, Fawcett, Ffrench, Freer, French, French-Brewster, Grierson, Gwynne, Henraghty, James, Kennedy, Kingdom, Lawrence, Mackmure, Mallam, Metge, Monypenny, Nedham, Nutter, Pugh, Raitt, Reardon, Remnant, Rimmer, Ryton, Septuans, Shone, Simmons, Solay, Soley, Symonds, Weyland, Young.

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