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A PAIR OF GEORGE II GILTWOOD CONSOLE TABLES
A PAIR OF GEORGE II GILTWOOD CONSOLE TABLES
A PAIR OF GEORGE II GILTWOOD CONSOLE TABLES
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THE PROPERTY OF LORD AND LADY HAMBLEDEN
A PAIR OF GEORGE II GILTWOOD CONSOLE TABLES

IN THE MANNER OF THOMAS JOHNSON, CIRCA 1745-55

Details
A PAIR OF GEORGE II GILTWOOD CONSOLE TABLES
IN THE MANNER OF THOMAS JOHNSON, CIRCA 1745-55
Each with a later rectangular red and white-bordered marble top above a gadrooned frame and central satyr mask wrapped and surrounded by pierced fruiting vines, with boars' heads to the corners and curving acanthus and vine-wrapped supports terminating in paw feet, losses, now with replaced back rail and additional inner frame
32 in. (82 cm.) high; 53 in. (135 cm.) wide; 24¼ in. (62 cm.) deep (2)
Provenance
Maria Carmela, Vistountess Hambleden, The Manor House, Buckingham, possibly supplied by John Fowler circa 1755.
Literature
J.M. Robinson, 'The Manor House, Buckinghamshire - The Home of Lady Hambledon', Country Life, 14 July 1994, p.73, fig. 7.
M. Wood, John Fowler, Prince of Decorators, London, 2007, p.58 (ill.).

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Lot Essay

THOMAS JOHNSON - CARVER AND DESIGNER
The table relates to patterns by the designer and carver Thomas Johnson (d.1799), who published his One Hundred & Fifty New Designs in 1761. Johnson, trading from various addresses in Soho, London, was a leading proponent of the French 'picturesque' style and a prolific designer of carvers' pieces such as Slab, Glass & Picture Frames ... Girondoles, Brackets ... Lanthorns &c. He issued his first designs, Twelve Gerandoles in 1755, which introduced rustic themes, inspired by Francis Barlow's illustrations of Aesop's Fables (1687), to the prevailing rococo fashion, which had already been expanded by his contemporaries Matthias Lock (d.1765) and Thomas Chippendale (d.1779) to include Chinese and Gothic motifs. Johnson's subsequent Collection of Designs, 1758, includes patterns for side tables modelled as realistic tree-form tables (pl. 19), and he introduced a squirrel in a design for an oval mirror design (pl. 10), the inspiration for a pair of mirrors executed for Corsham Court, Wiltshire (see R. Edwards and M Jourdain, Georgian Cabinet-Makers, London, 1955, fig. 75).
Johnson's One Hundred & Fifty New Designs included all manner of human forms, chimerae, and animals, often representing hunting scenes. His pattern for a looking glass (pl. 22) included dogs, game birds and a fox. Another pattern for a console table (pl. 37) featured a bear having apparently overwhelmed a huntsman, while the latter's companion seeks refuge in a tree, the whole frame pierced and wrapped in foliage and swags.
The boar would have been a natural subject in such a context. The beast was considered courageous and fearless in battle, having no natural competitors in the wild, and the boar hunt was thought a noble sport requiring the utmost skill; in Greek mythology the boar hunt was a harbinger of spring.
The grape vines, conversely representative of autumn, are associated with Bacchus, the Roman God of festivity whose mask centres the frieze wearing his customary headdress of vines that here extend to the full width of the frieze. The consoles are thus highly appropriate furnishings for an eating-room.
A design for this table, drawn probably in the 19th century from the actual table, but by an unknown hand, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (accession number 60.724.109).

RELATED TABLES

Related tables include a George II giltwood side table featuring a trophy of dead game formerly at St Giles's House, Dorset, sold Christie's, 12 June 1980, lot 72 (£38,000 including premium), and another with extravagantly shaped cabriole legs headed by satyr masks and a frieze centred by a basket overflowing with grape vines in the collection of Temple Newsam House, Yorkshire (C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, 1978, vol. II, p. 360, no. 451).

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