Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
Edward Harrison (d.1732), Balls Park, Hertfordshire, Governor of Fort St. George (Madras), 1711-17, recorded at Balls Park in an inventory of 1732, and thence by descent to his daughter
Audrey, Lady Lynn and later Lady Townshend (d.1788), recorded in her bedroom in Grosvenor Street in 1737, and thence by descent to her son
George, 1st Marquess Townshend (d.1807), and thence by descent to
George, 2nd Marquess Townshend (d.1811) at Lansdowne House, Richmond Hill, recorded in an inventory of 1811.
John, 4th Marquess Townshend (d.1863) and thence by descent at Balls Park, Hertfordshire, until 1901 when removed to Raynham Hall, Norfolk.
Thence by descent.
The bracket feet are English, circa 1740.
THE HARRISON & TOWNSHEND ANGLO-INDIAN FURNITURE
THE PROPERTY OF THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE LATE 7TH MARQUESS OF TOWNSHEND OF RAYNHAM
EDWARD HARRISON AND BALLS PARK
This exceptional group of ivory-inlaid furniture (lots 14 - 17) comprising a bureau-cabinet, kneehole dressing-table, a pair of caned daybeds and conforming side and arm chairs, was acquired by Edward Harrison (1674-1732) of Balls Park, Hertfordshire and his only surviving child Audrey (1709-88). It includes some of the earliest known examples of furniture made in India for the English market and represents a highly significant collection that has remained in private ownership since its acquisition, rarely seen and never before offered for sale.
Edward Harrison was descended from Sir John Harrison, a staunch Royalist ally of King Charles I and MP for Lancaster in three Parliaments under Charles. Sir John had acquired the Balls Park estate and built a new house around 1642-3, only to be driven from the property during the Civil War. The estate was restored to him when the King's forces prevailed after which it passed to Richard Harrison, John's son from his second marriage, and subsequently to Richard's second son Edward who was a supporter of William III.
From the late 17th century, Edward Harrison regularly sailed to the Indian subcontinent on board East India Company merchant ships, initially as a purser on the 'London' and later as captain of the 'Gosfright' and the 'Kent', trading on the Company's behalf between China, Bengal and Europe (respectively, 1693-4, 1703-4 and 1706-7) (Anthony Farrington, A Biographical Index of East India Company Maritime Service Officers 1600-1834, 1999, p. 355). Madras and other destinations along the Coromandel Coast of India, including Vizagapatam, a fine natural harbour, were regular ports of call on this trading route where gold was exchanged for textiles and other goods. Vizagapatam was also renowned for its cabinet-making industry which combined western forms with Indian ornamentation, in particular inlaying wood with floral designs in ivory, the ivory being engraved and highlighted with lac (Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A catalogue of the Collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, 2001, pp. 172-175). From his early days in the marine service, it is highly probable that Edward Harrison was exposed to and admired Vizagapatam work.
As the senior representative of an East India Company frigate, Edward Harrison also traded on his own account, an extremely lucrative enterprise and a primary reason why younger sons like Harrison joined the Company. He may have acquired the seat-furniture on one of his early voyages, but it is equally possible that it was supplied after 10th July 1711 when the Directors of the East India Company appointed him Governor of Madras. During his six year term in residence at Fort St. George he was a frequent visitor to Vizagapatam; one of the principal achievements of his administration being to pacify a problematic relationship with the indigenous government of that state and of nearby Gingee. In his capacity as Governor he would have acquired the trappings of high office, including luxurious furniture, as did successors to the post such as Richard Benyon, Governor from 1734-44, whose collection of ivory-inlaid furniture is now at Engelfield House, Berkshire, and other officials including Robert Clive, whose tours of duty in India saw him amass a huge collection of Indian curiosites now at Powis Castle, Montgomeryshire, and which includes a superb dressing-table similar to the present example (lot 15). This official post made Edward Harrison a wealthy man and on leaving Madras on the 8th January 1717 he was 'the possessor of a considerable fortune' (Henry Davison Love,Vestiges of Old Madras, 1913, pp. 103-4). When he returned to Balls Park, inherited on the death of his elder brother, his professional status improved considerably; he was elected Chairman of the East India Company, Member of Parliament for Hertfordshire and later Postmaster General. As a result Balls Park became a lively country seat and a gathering place for a large and distinguished circle of visitors, an ideal setting in which to display his Vizagapatam furniture.
Edward Harrison died in 1732, leaving his estate and its contents, undoubtedly including the present seat-furniture and bureau-cabinet, to his only surviving daughter, Ethelreda, known as Audrey. An inventory and valuation for Balls Park, written after his death, had a noteworthy amount of Indian furniture and works of art including; in 'The Governors Bed Chamber' 'a very curious India Book Case inlaid with Ivory', and in 'The Long Galery' '12 Ebony China Chairs inlaid wth Ivory 2 Elbow Do, 2 Couches Do and squabs Bolsters and Pillows of Silk' (December 15 1732. An Inventory and Appraism:then began of the Household Furniture, Pictures, Linen, China, Cattle, Corn, Hay and other Effects belonging to the Honourable Edward Harrison Esq deceas'd late Governor of Fort St. George &tc at his Seat of Balls in the County of Hertford, private collection, Ms. H1/4/3). Apart from Balls Park, Edward Harrison also furnished 'The Post Office', where, as Postmaster General he conducted official business, with yet more Indian artefacts comprising '26 India Fans, a small India Baby House stand & drawer' and 'an India Clockwork Ship Sails & Men', the latter perhaps a reminder of his seafaring days.
AUDREY HARRISON AND THE TOWNSHENDS
Raised at Balls Park surrounded by her father's striking Anglo-Indian furniture and works of art, Audrey Harrison also seems to have developed a passion for exotic ivory-inlaid furniture. Following her advantageous marriage on 29th May 1723, at age fifteen, to Charles Townshend, Lord Lynn (1700-64) (later 3rd Viscount Townshend of Raynham) she became successively Lady Lynn and Lady Townshend and as a wealthy woman in her own right had the wherewithal to collect Vizagapatam work. She established one of several marital homes at Grosvenor Street, London, which contained a number of ivory-inlaid items that were probably of Indian origin. A household inventory of 1737 for this property shows that in 'Room No. 7 In my Ladys Room' there was 'A Desk and book case. In Layd with Ivory', almost certainly the bureau-cabinet in this sale (lot 14) that had previously been at Balls Park and thus inherited. In 'Room No. 8 In the Closett', a small private room adjoining her Ladyship's bedroom, there was 'a Rosewood box Inlaid with Ivory with silver handles hinges' while in 'Room No. 9 The Dineing Room' there was 'an India cabinet in imotation of a House 2 small Ditto on the top' and finally in another 'Closett', in 'Room No. 11', adjacent to 'Bedchamber No. 10' there was yet another box 'Inlaid with Ivory containing Ivory all within it' ('An Inventory of the Right Honorable the Lord Lynn's Goods taken at His Lordships House in Littel Grosvenor Street this 11 day of July 1737', British Library, Ms. 41656, f. 209-10, Townshend Papers, 4th ser., vol. III, Miscellaneous papers).
During her eighteen year marriage to the 3rd Viscount Townshend, Lady Townshend possibly acquired yet more Anglo-Indian furniture from Vizagapatam through her brother-in-law, the Honourable Augustus Townshend (1717-46). Augustus, the 2nd son (of seven children) of Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend of Raynham and his second wife, Dorothy, daughter of Robert Walpole of Houghton, Norfolk, and sister of Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, was the half-brother of Lady Townshend's husband, Charles Townshend. Like the early career of Lady Townshend's father, Edward Harrison, Augustus Townshend was an East India Company sea captain who sailed the 'China Trade' via India on his ship the 'Augusta'. From 21st January 1739 to 20th September 1740 he is listed as sailing to Whampoa (the old English transliteration of Huangpu District, Guangzhou in China), from 5th January 1742 to 12th September 1743 to Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia) and Whampoa and from 26th December 1744 to 16th January 1748 to Whampoa (List of Marine Records of the late East India Company, and of subsequent date, preserved in the Record Department of the India Office, London, 1896, pp. 26, 28 and 30). A letter dated 1740 from the 2nd Duke of Montagu to Augustus Townshend on board the 'Augusta' in which the Duke requests Townshend's assistance regarding his cargo, gives an impression of the importance and value of these consignments described as 'supercargo' (see Catalogue 58 of Sophie Dupre, Rare Books, Autographs, Manuscripts, Photographs and other collectable items). Augustus, like Edward Harrison before him, was bringing back private cargo for on the 30th September 1743, the Hon. Mary Townshend, Augustus' sister, wrote to Horace Walpole that 'other things that were made for him (Augustus) to be brought home this year were burnt (in a warehouse or factory fire) three weeks before the ships came away the disappointment to his friends gives him great concern' (Ed. W.S. Lewis, The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence, vol. 40, p. 45) and in a Journal written by Lady Townshend's son, Roger, there is a reference to the Captain's 'private trade' (A Journal of a Voyage from London to China on Board the Augusta Kept by Roger Townshend Anno Domini 1745, private collection).
Lady Townshend initially had a good relationship with Augustus. Her fifth and youngest son, the Honourable Roger Townshend (1732-59), accompanied him on board the 'Augusta' on at least one occasion (ibid.) and in a letter written from Madras on 6th January 1734 to his half-brother, Charles, Augustus Townshend affectionately referred to Lady Townshend as his 'dear sister' (A. Townshend, Historical Manuscripts Commission, The Manuscripts of the Marquess Townshend, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1887, eleventh report, appendix, part IV, p. 353). Fully conscious of Lady Townshend's interest and admiration for Vizagapatam work it is evident that Augustus Townshend was in a position to bring furniture back from India on her behalf as the Coromandel Coast was on his trading route; it is likely that the kneehole desk or dressing-table of ivory-inlaid rosewood offered here (lot 15) was acquired by Lady Townshend in this way.
There is little doubt that it was Lady Townshend rather than her husband, the 3rd Viscount, who had an appreciation for Anglo-Indian furniture, for Charles Townshend has been described as being 'cast in a different mould' to his wife 'not caring for the frivolous things of the world which so amused her' (Erroll Sherson, Lively Lady Townshend and her friends, New York, 1926, p. 15). She almost certainly collected more Anglo-Indian furniture after her formal separation from her husband in early 1741 as she had her own fortune that was augmented still further on the death of her mother in 1758 by £1,000 per annum. In this period the Townshend marriage, which had produced five sons and a daughter, was extremely acrimonious for the 3rd Viscount had conducted a string of affairs throughout his married life, often with members of the household staff at the family seat of Raynham in Norfolk, culminating in a relationship with the housemaid who bore him three children and to whom he bequeathed £50,000 in his will. Lady Townshend began to lead a separate life in London; on the 23rd July 1744 she was living at no. 4 Whitehall, now no. 1 Horse Guards Avenue (ed. H. Montagu Cox and Philip Norman, ..Survey of London: volume 13, St. Margaret, Westminster, part II: Whitehall I.., 1930, pp. 152-6). In her will and subsequent codicils dated 17th July 1783-87 she left Balls Park to her favourite grandson, Jack Townshend, the 2nd son of George, 1st Marquess Townshend of Raynham, 4th Viscount (1723/4-1807) (Ms. DE/L/4438, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies). The property included Anglo-Indian furniture for in a later advertisement dated October 1797 in The Times newspaper for the sale of the contents of Balls Park (see The Times, 5th October 1797, under 'Sales by Auction') there is mention of 'a Drawing-room full of chintz furniture', which undoubtedly refers to ivory-inlaid or lacquer furnishing of Eastern origin. Much of Lady Townshend's collection of Anglo-Indian furniture was bequeathed to her eldest son, George, 1st Marquess Townshend of Raynham (1723-1807), and thence by descent to his grandson, George Ferrars Townshend, 3rd Marquess Townshend of Raynham, (1778-1811). An inventory dated August 1811 for Lansdowne House, Richmond Hill, a property leased from the 1790s-1811 by the 3rd Marquess, contains at least ten items of Anglo-Indian furniture including lots 16 and 17, the seat-furniture, which is to be found on p. 20 on the 'Landing' as 'Twelve and Two Elbow Curious Antique Rosewood Chairs Cane Seats inlaid with Ivory, Flowers and engraved and Twelve Cusions and Dimity Cases to Ditto' and 'Two Carved Couches to correspond with squabs and case'. The bureau-cabinet is most likely the one in the 'Best Bed Room', p. 19, described as 'A Handsome and Curious India Bureau and Book Case Inlaid with Ivory Figures and Flowers beautifully engraved' while the third example, the kneehole desk or dressing-table, could be one of three listed, in the 'Drawing Room', p.25, in the 'Drawing Room adjoining', p.36, or alternatively on the 'First Floor, Front Drawing Room', p.14 (PRO Ms. C107/39, 'An Inventory of furniture, fixtures &tc Taken on the Premises, Richmond Hill the Property of the late Marquis of Townshend - July 1811').
After 1811 the Richmond Hill furniture almost certainly returned to Balls Park, the house having remained in the Townshend family. The next definite 'sighting' would be between 1847 and 1855, when the daybeds and chairs were labelled at Raynham. However the absence of similar labels on the bureau and dressing-table confirms that they must have remained at Balls Park until it was finally sold in 1901, at which point the entire group was reunited at Raynham Hall.
GOVERNOR HARRISON'S BUREAU-CABINET
December 15 1732. An Inventory and Appraism:then began of the Household Furniture, Pictures, Linen, China, Cattle, Corn, Hay and other Effects belonging to the Honourable Edward Harrisson Esq deceas'd late Governor of Fort St. George &tc at his Seat of Balls in the County of Hertford, private collection, Ms. H1/4/3, listed in 'The Governor's Bed Chamber', 'a very curious India Book Case inlaid with Ivory'.
An Inventory of the Right Honorable the Lord Lynn's Goods taken at His Lordships House in Littel Grosvenor Street this 11 day of July 1737, British Library, Ms. 41656, f.209-10, Townshend Papers, 4th ser., vol. III, Miscellaneous papers, listed 'In my Lady's Room', 'A Desk and bookcase. In Layd with Ivory'.
An Inventory of Furniture, Fixtures &tc Taken on the Premises, Richmond Hill the Property of the late Marquis of Townshend-July 1811, PRO Ms. C107/39, listed on p.19 in the 'Best Bed Room', 'A Handsome and Curious India Bureau and Book Case Inlaid with Ivory Figures and Flowers beautifully engraved'.
'Inlaid ebony furniture of the late Seventeenth Century', Country Life, Jan 22nd 1927, pp. 149-150.
Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, London, 2001, p. 184, fig. 84.