These chairs form part of a set of eight klismos chairs formerly in the Entrance Hall at Harewood House, Yorkshire where they were photographed by Country Life in 1914 and 1922. The set was probably supplied by the ‘Royal’ cabinet-makers, Marsh & Tatham, to Edward ‘Beau’, Viscount Lascelles (1764-1814) as part of a Regency refurbishment, which included fitting up the hall in the Egyptian style; they were possibly intended to accompany the mahogany and bronzed centre table sold at Christie’s in 2019 (1), another pair of closely related tables (2), now in the Banqueting Room at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and a pair of cross-frame stools still at Harewood, also attributed to Marsh & Tatham. The Harewood archive records three substantial generic payments to Marsh & Tatham. The earliest for £109 is dated August 1800, and appears in the 'Cash Account' of ‘Beau’ Lascelles’ father, Edward, 1st Earl of Harewood (1740-1820) (3). The second and third payments are in ‘Beau’ Lascelles’ personal account books: in 1801, Elward Marsh & Tatham Payment for furniture, £172 10s (4), and in 1811, Marsh & Tatham Payment of £65 7s 6d (5). The present chairs are almost certainly inspired by klismos chairs in Thomas Hope’s mansion/museum at Duchess Street, illustrated in Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807, plate 24, no. 4. Interestingly, the deep curved tablet-backs of these chairs recall chairs supplied by Thomas Chippendale Junior (1749-c. 1822) to Stourhead, Wiltshire - the latter was also supplying furniture to the Lascelles in 1800 – illustrating the importance of Hope’s designs to fashionable cabinet-makers of the day (6).
Marsh & Tatham (subsequently Tatham, Bailey & Sanders) was a partnership between William Marsh (active 1775-1810) and Thomas Tatham (1763-1818). From the 1780s, Marsh & Tatham were associated with fashionable architects such as Henry Holland (1745-1806), celebrated for the remodelling of Carlton House, London, and the Royal Pavilion, Brighton for the Prince of Wales/George IV, and for commissions for Samuel Whitbread II at Southill, Bedfordshire, and John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire (7). In the mid-1790s, Holland employed Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842), the elder brother of Thomas Tatham, to visit Rome and Naples to sketch ancient architecture and ornament, in addition to assembling a collection of architectural fragments. C.H. Tatham returned to England in 1797, and published his drawings two years later in Etchings, representing the best examples of ancient ornamental architecture drawn from the originals in Rome, and other parts of Italy, during the years 1794, 1795 and 1796. The book was extremely popular and became a vital source of material for many of his contemporaries like Hope working in the new spare archaeological neoclassical style; it went into a third edition in 1810. Undoubtedly, Marsh & Tatham benefitted from the family connection to become Principal Cabinet-Maker to the Prince of Wales, supplying furniture for Carlton House and the Royal Pavilion, much of which is in the Royal Collection. It seems likely that furniture based on C.H. Tatham’s designs was made by Marsh & Tatham.
(1) Sold ‘The Exceptional Sale’, Christie’s, London, 4 July 2019, lot 129, £75,000 inc. premium.
(2) The pair was bought from Blairman’s in 1952. Blairman’s bought them at Christie’s sale of contents from Harewood House 28 June 1951 (lots 67 and 68). The Museum numbers are DA 340437/8
(3) A.L.H. Moore, Imagining Egypt: The Regency Furniture Collections at Harewood House, Leeds and Nineteenth Century Images of Egypt (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Southampton, 2001), p. 147.
(6) NT 731545; NT 731560; NT 731566.
(7) The firm of Marsh & Tatham underwent a significant number of name changes as partners joined or retired. Although Marsh & Tatham is listed in trade directories from 1803-11, the period when these tripods were executed, they appear as Tatham & Bailey in rate books from 1807-10, and in this guise the firm took out insurance in 1808 suggesting that William Marsh had retired by this date.