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A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PADOUK ARMCHAIRS
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PADOUK ARMCHAIRS
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PADOUK ARMCHAIRS
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A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PADOUK ARMCHAIRS

POSSIBLY BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, CIRCA 1755

Details
A PAIR OF GEORGE II MAHOGANY AND PADOUK ARMCHAIRS
POSSIBLY BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, CIRCA 1755
Each with pagoda cresting above a trellis back and conforming arms above a caned drop-in seat with squab cushion, one with an illegible red-edged ripped inventory label, each with inventory label inscribed D.R. 53.1788 or D.R. 53.1789, one seat inscribed Rockefeller in black ink, incised IV and V
Provenance
Acquired from Needham's Antiques, New York, in June 1957.
Literature
D. Fennimore et al., The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Decorative Arts, New York, 1992, vol. IV, pp. 286-287, no. 294.
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Lot Essay

The exotic ‘pagoda’ chairs are designed in the Chinese manner expounded by Sir William Chambers in his Designs for Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils of 1757. They derive from a pattern later published by Thomas Chippendale in The Gentleman & Cabinet-Maker’s Director, 3rd ed., London 1762, pl. XXVII, which included nine such designs. There seem to be a proliferation of similar railed and pagoda-crested chairs in both the ‘picturesque’ Chinese tea pavilions of the landscaped parks as well as in fashionable bedroom apartments hung in Chinese flowered wall papers during the middle of the 18th century. (W. and J. Halfpenny, Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste, 1751-52). Chippendale’s early ‘Chinese Chair’ patterns published in the 1754 edition of the Director were considered “proper for lady’s Dressing rooms”, which he hoped would “improve the Taste, or Manner of work, it never having yet arrived to any Perfection”.
There are a number chairs at Dumfries House which, like the present chairs, have nearly identical pagoda-form cresting rail with identical terminals. They are also of a nearly identical form, save for the arrangement of the fret backrests and side panels to the arms. Although no documentary evidence for the Dumfries pagoda chairs survives, in their execution and sophisticated carving of the toprails, they are extremely close to Thomas Chippendale’s hand. It is extremely pertinent, therefore, that a closely related set of twelve chairs, including two armchairs which display identical angle brackets and top rails from Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, have strong links to another Chippendale Director period commission (Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, p. 249 and vol. II, fig. 167). The Grimsthorpe chairs were originally at Normanton Hall, the seat of Sir Gilbert Heathcote (d. 1785). Sir Gilbert succeeded in 1759 to the vast inheritance established by his grandfather Sir Gilbert Heathcote, 1st Baronet (d. 1733) and his father, both of whom served as members of the board of directors of the Bank of England. As well as employing the Chippendale firm in the furnishing of the Palladian mansion at Normanton Hall, he also used their services at Grosvenor Square, London and at Browne’s House, Fulham, which he acquired in 1761. Chippendale’s earliest surviving bill dates from 1768, but later references prove that at least one earlier voucher is missing, and the firm was still working at the Browne’s House, Normanton and at Sir Gilbert’s other London Properties in the late 1770s and early 1780s.

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