WILLIAM STRICKLAND - NEPHEW OF WILLIAM VILE
These white-painted simulated-bamboo window seats are signed by the cabinet-maker and upholsterer William Strickland of 75 Long Acre, London. Strickland was the nephew of the cabinet-maker William Vile (1700/05-1767), who, together with his partner John Cobb (1715-78) held a Royal Warrant from 1761-1764. Strickland undoubtedly worked for the firm of Vile & Cobb, and later Cobb after September 1767, prior to going into business with Cobb’s foreman, John Jenkins, as Strickland & Jenkins (1777-93). Other signed furniture by Strickland includes a mahogany hall seat bearing a label showing it was made by ‘Strickland nephew of the late Mr. Vile’, exhibited at The Antique Dealers’ Fair in 1954 (E. Perry, ‘Impressions of the Antique Dealers’ Fair’, Country Life, 10 June 1954, p. 1896). Notably, Vile & Cobb were supplying simulated-bamboo furniture: in July 1758, the firm invoiced the 6th Earl of Coventry at Croome Court, Worcestershire, for ‘8 Neat Bamboo Arm'd Chairs with Can'd Seats and Loose Cushions, Cover'd with Your India Damask, and Check Cases’ costing £14 12s (https://bifmo.history.ac.uk/entry/vile-william-1700-67. Accessed 7 December 2020). A mahogany stool, signed 'Strickland, Sept 1st 1763' is illustrated in R. Edwards, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1964, p. 508, fig. 50. and at that time in the stock of H.W. Keil Ltd., one of the pre-eminent dealers of the time.
These window seats are from Forde Abbey, Dorset, and probably would have been part of a larger suite of seat-furniture. Interestingly, the 1846 sale catalogue for the contents of the mansion lists the following in the Green Silk Room, and Ante Room: lot 25, ‘Six painted elbow chairs, bamboo pattern, with cushions’ and lot 26, ‘Two settees to match, and two dressing stools’ (English & Son, Catalogue of the Magnificent and Matchless … The Entire Effects of Ford Abbey, 26 October 1846 and seven following days, p. 12). Although these lots are not described in detail it is almost certain that the present window seats are in fact the ‘two dressing stools’ recorded as lot 26 in 1846.
Forde Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery. The house and estate were eventually bought by Edmund Prideaux (d. 1659), Member of Parliament for Lyme Regis who greatly improved the residence and collected impressively. It was his descendant John Fraunceis Gwyn who eventually inherited the estate and who almost certainly commissioned the present lot, either for Forde or the family's other seat Llansannor Court, Glamorgan.