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THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
(LOTS 1 - 37)
GEORGE BULLOCK: BRITISH HERO?
The fame of George Bullock (d.1818) and his Tenterden Street Furniture Repository was trumpeted by an extraordinary commission that he received after the Battle of Waterloo. Under the orders of the future George IV, then acting as Britain's Prince Regent, Bullock was requested in 1816 to supply furniture, worthy of a General's rank, to furnish Emperor Napoleon's residence on the Island of St. Helena. General Buonaparte's furniture, designed under the direction of the Board of Ordnance architect William Atkinson (d. 1839), was executed from ancient British oak in a massy Grecian style that derived from publications such as the connoisseur Thomas Hope's, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, (1807). This Regency fashion, enriched in the French manner with inlay and mounts executed in the Louis Quatorze buhl (boulle) manner with golden bronze (brass ormolu) or with bronze-black ebony, can be identified throughout the present collection.
BULLOCK, BRIDGENS & BROWN
In addition, the architects Richard Bridgens (d.1846) and Richard Brown (fl.1804-42) not only provided Bullock with designs, but also did much to publicise his taste for the antique. The former by his Designs for Furniture with Candelabra and Interior Decoration (1824); and the latter by his Cabinet and Upholstery Furniture, 1820 (2nd ed. 1822; 3rd ed. 1835). Bullock's work was here linked with publications such as 'Mr. Hope's mythological work; Mr. [George] Smith's excellent Book of Unique Designs , and [Charles] Percier's splendid French work on Interior Decoration [1801; 2nd ed. 1812]'. Brown also gave considerable praise to the new character of contemporary furniture, with its bold outlines combined with rich and chaste ornament aided by classic literature.
BULLOCK & CHRISTIE'S
Bullock's meteoric career can be traced from the movement of his Grecian Rooms from Liverpool to London's Piccadilly in 1812, and by his appearance two years later as a Sculptor at stylish Mayfair premises situated at 4, Tenterden Street, Hanover Square, Mona Marble & Furniture Works, Oxford Street'. It was from here, in the year following his early death, that Mr. Christie announced his 1819 sale of 'The Superb Furniture and ... finished stock of that highly ingenious artist [Mr. Bullock]'. In the 20th century, Bullock's reputation became firmly re-established with Christie's 1987 sale held on the premises at Tew Park, Oxfordshire; while a further sale of 'Tew' furniture appeared from a private English collection on 27 November 2003 at Christies King Street (see lots 3 & 5).
MUSEUMS AND THE CHAMPIONING OF BULLOCK
Although the Victoria and Albert Museum did not acquire its first 'Bullock' item until 1979, the cabinet-maker had already been the focus of attention by furniture historians and collectors since the 1950s. For instance 'The Work of George Bullock cabinet maker in Scotland', was the subject of Anthony Coleridge's article in The Connoisseur in 1965; while 'George Bullock, Richard Bridgens and James Watt's Regency Furnishing Schemes' was the title of Virginia Glenn's contribution to the journal of the Furniture History Society, Furniture History in 1979. The principal research has been carried out by Martin Levy, whose article George Bullock appeared in 1987 in Apollo; while Bullock's Napoleonic furniture was discussed by Levy in the 1998 journal of the Furniture History Society. Levy was also a contributor to the seminal catalogue of the George Bullock Exhibition held at H. Blairman & Sons in 1988.