HAREWOOD HOUSE AND CHIPPENDALE'S COMMISSION.
The Lascelles family's connection with Harewood - that great Treasure house of the North - began in 1738 when Henry Lascelles bought the Gawthorpe Hall estate near Leeds. An old-fashioned, medieval manor house, Gawthorpe was razed to the ground in 1754 by his son and heir, Edwin, who embarked on an ambitious building programme to erect a new Harewood, commensurate with his vast inheritance acquired from the family's sugar plantations in Barbados. Initially turning to the local architect John Carr of York, the latter was subsequently succeeded by the young and ambitious Scot Robert Adam. Their great Palladian collusion was largely complete on the outside by 1765, when it was depicted on an ice-pail made by Wedgwood for the service of Catherine the Great of Russia.
Adam's palatial interiors, embellished with plasterwork by Joseph Rose and decorative paintings by Antonio Zucchi and Angelica Kauffmann, took more than three decades to reach their zenith but provided the perfect backdrop for Chippendale's most important commission. Born only a few miles away at Otley, Thomas Chippendale Senior (d.1778) and, subsequently his son, Thomas Junior worked at Harewood between 1767 and 1797. A multiplicity of chairs, sofas, stools, tables, beds, commodes, looking glasses and upholstery were made for not only the State Rooms, but also for the family apartments, basements and servant's quarters, to create "one of the best and compleatest Houses in the Kingdom".
This screen may well be be the "Sliding Fire Screen" listed in the Coffee Room in the 1795 Harewood inventory; and differed from the six "Folding Fire Screens" listed elsewhere (The Earl of Harewood et al., The Art of Thomas Chippendale, Leeds, 2000, p.56). It matches the pattern of "mahogany double sliding Firescreen with Yellow Canvass Pannels" which Chippendale invoiced in June 1777 for Petworth House, Sussex (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, Vol. I p.284 and Vol II, p.187, fig.338). Confusingly, a note of caution has to be sounded with regard to identifying the plainer Chippendale furniture with descriptions in Harewood's 1795 inventory, as much was also originally supplied to another Lascelles house, that of Daniel Lascelles (d.1784) at Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire.