Robert Wemyss Symonds (1889-1958) dominated the field of English furniture collecting in the mid-20th Century. Between 1921 and 1958 his five major books and countless articles formed and then reflected the taste of a generation. He was involved in the formation of almost all of the great private collections of English furniture and clocks of the time, including those of Percival Griffiths, Eric and Ralph Moller, Samuel Messer and Joseph Sassoon Sykes, and much of their furniture was used to illustrate his books.
But it was not just furniture that Symonds sourced for his clients; his net was cast far wider as can be seen by the collection formed by Mr. & Mrs. Steinberg under his guidance, some of which is offered in this sale including the present lot. The survival of his bills and the accompanying invoices give a clear picture of his hand in decorating a large London residence, including fees and expenses for advice on purchases, upholstery, repairs and polishing, while in January 1949 his invoice covers ‘... advising you on the purchase of Oil Painting; designing marble chimneypiece in a bedroom; and also advising you on the purchase of stools, etc. ...’. It is apparent that Symonds was entirely responsible for every detail in the house.
This landscape previously formed part of the collection of pictures at Nuneham Park, Oxford, which was largely assembled by Simon, 1st Viscount Harcourt, and included Caravaggio’s celebrated Boy bitten by a lizard, now in the National Gallery, London.