A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS
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A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS
15 More
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more THE GRIMSTHORPE CASTLE ARMCHAIRS
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS

ATTRIBUTED TO PAUL SAUNDERS, CIRCA 1755

Details
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS
ATTRIBUTED TO PAUL SAUNDERS, CIRCA 1755
The cartouche backs with C-scrolls and foliage and flanked by out-scrolled arms with foliate terminals supported by elongated foliate cartouches, above an apron centered with a cartouche flanked by C-scrolls and scrolling foliage on cartouche carved fluted legs ending in scrolled feet, the seats covered in 'Ferronene' green silk velvet, Italian, circa 1620, the backs in a complimentary fabric of later date, with printed and inscribed Ann and Gordon Getty Collection inventory label
43 1/2 in. (110.5 cm.) high, 31 1/2 in. (80 cm.) wide, 25 1/2 in. ( 64.5 cm.) deep
Provenance
Almost certainly commissioned by Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1714-1788), for Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, probably shortly after his marriage to Mary Panton of Newmarket (November 27, 1750) as part of a suite of seat furniture which originally comprised six armchairs and two sofas.
Thence by descent to his son, Robert Bertie, 4th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1756-1779).
Thence by descent to his daughter Priscilla Barbara Elizabeth Bertie, 21st Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (1761-1828).
Thence to Peter Robert Drummond-Burrell, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby (1782-1865).
Thence to Albyric Drummond-Willoughby, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby (d. 1870).
Thence to Clementina Drummond-Willoughby, 24th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (1809-1888).
Thence to Gilbert Henry Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 1st Earl of Ancaster (1830-1910).
Thence to Gilbert Henry Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster (1867-1951), Grimsthorpe Castle, by whom sold, circa 1934 (Although offered at Sotheby's, 11 May 1934, lot 168, the six armchairs were withdrawn from the sale).
With Arthur S. Vernay, Inc., New York.
The Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.; Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc., New York, 29 April 1960, lot 227.
A Collection of English Furniture, Barometers and Clocks, formed by a Gentleman residing in New York (Arthur Leidesdorf); Sotheby's, London, 27-28 June 1974, lot 31.
Acquired from Hotspur Ltd., London, by Ann and Gordon Getty in 1982.
The fabric acquired from Mayorcas Ltd., London, by Ann and Gordon Getty in 1984.
Literature
A. Tipping, In English Homes, Period IV, Volume II, Grimsthorpe Castle, London, 1929, p. 316.
English Furniture, Irwin Untermyer Collection, Published by Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1958, pl. 116-20.
A. Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, p.192, fig 182.
?For the suite:
The suite recorded in 'Lady Willoughby's Drawing Room' at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire in the 1812 household inventory.
G.R. and H.W. Harding, A Catalogue of the Paintings, etc., Decorative Furniture, Works of Art and Porcelain at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire: the Property of the Earl of Ancaster, London, 1901-3, p. 153.
C. Hussey, 'Grimsthorpe - III Lincolnshire: The seat of the Earl of Ancaster', Country Life, 26 April 1924, p. 653, fig. 7.
W. Rieder, ‘Eighteenth-Century Chairs in the Untermyer Collection’, Apollo, March 1978, vol. 107, p. 184.
J. Cornforth, ‘How French style touched the Georgian Drawing Room’, Country Life, 6 January 2000, p. 55, fig. 3.
D.O. Kisluk-Grosheide, W. Koeppe, W. Rieder, European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection, New Haven and London, 2006, pp. 124-126, no. 48.
Special notice
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Lot Essay

This spectacular pair of armchairs is from a well-documented suite of seat-furniture originally comprising two settees and six armchairs from Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire. One settee and four of the armchairs from this suite are now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [1971-236; 64.101.987-990]. This suite with an exceptional provenance is a rare example of seat-furniture in the ‘French’ style that appears to have been made specifically for French tapestry covers. These chairs, and the suite to which they belong, is attributed to the cabinet-maker and upholsterer, Paul Saunders (d. 1771), who was undoubtedly inspired by Chippendale in its design; Saunders was a contemporary of Chippendale, and a subscriber to the first edition of the Director (1754). Furthermore, as the tapestry-maker to George III, and combined with his cabinet-making skills, Saunders was fully able to supply seat-furniture frames made specifically for pre-existing tapestry covers.
THE HISTORY OF THE SUITE
The set was probably commissioned by Peregrine, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1714-1778) following his marriage to Mary Panton of Newmarket in 1750 when a significant refurbishment of Grimsthorpe Castle occurred.
In the 1812 inventory for Grimsthorpe, the suite was recorded in ‘Lady Willoughby’s Drawing Room’ where it was described as: ‘Two mahogany and gilt carved Sofas, stuff’d backs and seats cover’d with Tapestry de Goblins and brass nailed. Six Arm Chairs exactly to correspond with Do’ (W. Rieder, ‘Eighteenth-Century Chairs in the Untermyer Collection’, Apollo, March 1978, vol. 107, p. 184). ‘Lady Willoughby’ was Priscilla, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (1761-1828), who inherited Grimsthorpe on the death of the 5th Duke of Ancaster in 1809.
On 11 March 1829, the suite was offered for sale by Christie’s, and described in, A Catalogue of the first portion of the very elegant effects, the property of the Late Rt. Hon. Lord Gwydir, removed from Grimsthorpe Castle, for the purpose of sale, as follows:
Lot 80 – Six large fauteuils, with richly-carved and partly gilt frames, the backs, arms, and seats stuffed and covered with Beauvais tapestry, of pastoral designs, with flowers; also, loose holland covers
Lot 81 – A large settee, or high-back couch, to correspond
Lot 82 - Ditto

The suite was purchased by 'Pecotti', an agent representing Peter Robert, 2nd Baron Gwydir, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby (1782-1865), Lady Willoughby’s eldest son and heir, and it was returned to Grimsthorpe. The the chairs sold for £7 15s each and the settees sold for £16 16s each.
THE CHAIRS FROM THE SUITE
The chairs are featured in the 1867 and 1901-1903 inventories. In 1924, the chairs were photographed by Country Life in the King James’s Drawing Room at Grimsthorpe (C. Hussey, ‘Grimsthorpe – III Lincolnshire: The seat of the Earl of Ancaster’, Country Life, 26 April 1924, p. 653, fig. 7). On 11 May 1934, lot 168, the chairs were offered for sale at Sotheby’s by Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster (1867-1951), but were withdrawn from the sale and sold privately. In 1949, four of the armchairs were acquired by Judge Irwin Untermyer (1886-1973) to form part of the Untermyer collection although by this date the chairs had been stripped of their gilding, and original upholstery (J. Gloag and Y. Hackenbroch, English Furniture in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, Cambridge, 1958, pls. 116-117). The two remaining chairs, which comprise the present lot, entered the collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. (1909-1988), sold Parke-Bernet, 30 April 1960, lot 227, and then, the collection of Arthur Leidesdorf until sold at Sotheby’s, 27 June 1974, lot 31.
PAUL SAUNDERS, CABINET-MAKER AND ‘TAPESTRY-MAKER’
The chairs offered here, and the suite from which they are a part, can be attributed to the workshop of Paul Saunders (1722-1771), an 'upholder' (upholsterer) and cabinet-maker of Soho, London, on stylistic grounds. The form and ornament of this elegant pair of chairs reflects the influence of ‘French’ designs in Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754 (pls. XVIII-XIX). Saunders was a subscriber to the Director, and was undoubtedly inspired by Chippendale’s designs to the extent that in 1928, two prominent furniture historians, H. Avray Tipping and Christopher Hussey, erroneously stated that the chairs from this suite were ‘probably by Chippendale’ although there is no stylistic or documentary evidence to support this (W. Rieder, ‘Eighteenth-Century Chairs in the Untermyer Collection’, Apollo, March 1978, vol. 107, p. 184). Although most of Saunders’ work is undocumented, he supplied a closely related suite of chairs to the 1st Earl of Leicester for Holkham Hall, Norfolk in 1757 (A. Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, p. 211, figs. 378-379). The cabriole legs with their foliate carved cabochons and distinctive scrolled feet are a variation of the Holkham suite and possibly unique to Saunders’ workshop. An armchair, with closely related carving, was bequeathed by the collector C. D. Rotch to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and is presently in their collection [W.50-1962]; a settee from the same suite was sold at Christie’s, New York, 21 March 2015, lot 1044.
Saunders’ early career began on 7 December 1738 when he was apprenticed for seven years to Michael Bradshaw, citizen and ‘upholder’ of London. In 1753, Saunders and his business partner, George Smith Bradshaw were established at 59 Greek Street, Soho, the former workshop of the upholsterer and cabinet-maker William Bradshaw (1700-75), from whom they probably acquired stock and pattern books; in May of the same year, the partnership was described as ‘upholsterers of Greek Street’. Recent research shows that Saunders was probably more prolific as a cabinet-maker in the 1750s than previously thought; from February 1752-July 1757, ‘Paul Saunders & Co.’ was supplying furniture and overseeing the complete refurbishment of Exchequer House, 10 Downing Street, and the following year, Oatlands Park, Surrey, and Clinton Lodge, Hampshire for Henry Pelham Clinton, 9th Earl of Lincoln, later 2nd Duke of Newcastle (1720-94); the total commission came to over £5000 (S. Goodman, ‘The 9th Earl of Lincoln (1720-1794) and the refurbishment of Exchequer House, 10 Downing Street’, The British Art Journal, Winter 2017/2018, vol. XVIII, no. 3, pp. 3-7). Furthermore, from June 1749 to February 1759, he was employed by Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland (1715-86), a commission that came to more than £2000 (10). On 6 February 1755, and with respect to the above, the firm was referred to by the Public Advisor as ‘the Workshop of Mess. Smyth, Bradshaw & Saunders, Upholders & Cabinetmakers, Soho’.
THE ORIGINAL FRENCH TAPESTRY COVERS
The 1901-1903 Grimsthorpe inventory describes the original French Gobelins tapestry covers for this suite of seat-furniture. The chair backs were from a series entitled ‘Jeux d’Enfants’ after designs by Boucher, and the chair seats portrayed scenes from ‘La Fables de La Fontaine’. The Gobelins inventory of 1792 lists among its holdings of Boucher paintings, '31 petit tableaux representant des Jeux d’Enfants, tant originaux que copies'. Five of these are extant and show figures of children that often appear as tapestry chair-coverings in sets that sometimes, as in the original chair backs for the Grimsthorpe armchairs, includes ‘The Boy with the Bagpipes’ (E. Standen, ‘Tapestry panel for a fire-screen’, Decorative Art from the S.H. Kress Collection, Aylesbury, 1964, pp. 280-281).
After their sale in 1934, the tapestry covers were removed from the armchairs, and applied to six modern armchairs, which were purchased by Dr. F. Mannheimer of Amsterdam, and given to the Rijksmuseum after the war where they remain today. The Grimsthorpe chairs were evidently made to accommodate the French tapestry covers, and as such are possibly ‘among the earliest pieces in England so conceived’, and ‘emerge as a valuable document in the eighteenth-century development of Francophile taste in England’ (Rieder, op. cit., p. 184). This leads to Saunders, who as the preeminent London tapestry-maker, owner of ‘The Royal Tapestry Manufactury, Soho Square’, and from September 1757, tapestry-maker to His Majesty, George II, in addition to being a cabinet-maker would have been fully conversant in the complexities of matching covers to seat-frames.
When these chairs entered the Collection of Ann and Gordon Getty, they had the chair seats covered in Italian green silk velvet dating to circa 1620, and the backs of the seats in a complimentary fabric of later date.

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