These magnificently carved George II 'term fashion' pedestals conceived in the 'antique' manner served as pedestals for candelabra or flower vases, and often accompanied a pier-table or commode-table. They evolved from terminal posts, dedicated to Roman deities, and relate to some garden terms designed around 1620 by the Palladian architect Inigo Jones (d. 1652) for Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel. These, in turn, inspired Chiswick Villa's stone terms, designed in the 1720s by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and his architect, William Kent (d. 1749).
BENJAMIN GOODISON AND JOHN BOSON
The lives and work of Benjamin Goodison and John Boson were undoubtedly interlinked. They both shared many patrons and were working at precisely the same time. Goodison most probably succeeded into Royal service upon the death of James Moore circa 1727, having been Moore's apprentice since 1719. Boson first appears in records working as a carver on St. George's Bloomsbury in the 1720s, undertaking his first domestic work at 4 St. James's Square in 1725. While Goodison's name is most closely linked to much 'Kentian' furniture, it is probably due to John Boson's premature death in 1743 that the latter has not received the credit he perhaps deserves. Both men were associated with the Royal Household and are noted as having received payments from the Royal Wardrobe, along with William Kent and others, in the late 1730s for work undertaken for Frederick, Prince of Wales at both Hampton Court and Kew Palace. The Palladian form of the pedestals offered here appear to have charmed the Prince of Wales as he ordered a total of eight 'carved & gilt Term Fashion', four for Hampton Court and the remainder for Kew. Goodison's account records these pedestals as '4 Rich terms wth. Boys Heads & Ionick Capitalls...very Rich' and '4 Rich Terms wth. Warriors heads & Dorick Caps...' at a cost of £42 and £32 respectively. Those terms delivered to Kew, which can not presently be traced, are thought to have been supplied by Boson.
Most interesting is the pedestals' remarkable similarity to a pair in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire, currently at Chatsworth (illustrated in O. Brackett An Encyclopedia of English Furniture, London, 1927, p.168) and a further example at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (see D. Fitz-Gerald Ed., Georgian Furniture London, 1969, fig. 28). While all of these pedestals support very similar Ionic capitals, a slightly turned boy's face and imbricated bodies carved with grape bunches and acanthus, the Chatsworth example is hung with oak-leaf garlands to the capital while the Victoria and Albert example displays wings to the shoulders of the body. The pedestal at Chatsworth House is thought to be one of the pedestals supplied to Lady Burlington, wife of the 3rd Earl, for Chiswick House in 1735 and illustrated in situ in William Hunt's watercolour of 1828. The receipt signed by Boson and dated 11 September includes two 'Stands with Boys heads' charged at £43 4s., a very similar sum to those delivered to Hampton Court, indicating a similar quality of workmanship.
To differentiate between the work of Benjamin Goodison and John Boson without firm records of their work is difficult. The present examples share various elements all of the known pedestals including those already mentioned at Chatsworth, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Hampton Court as well as pedestals at Raynham Hall, Norfolk where another winged variety with boy's masks are known, illustrated in M. Jourdain, The Work of William Kent, London, 1948, p.130, fig. 67. It is most probable that William Kent, the architect and designer, remains the significant core figure and creator of this form. In addition to his close association with Lord Burlington and significant work at Chiswick House, he is also recorded as working at many of the houses where terms of this type still exist. These include Kew Palace, Raynham Hall, Hampton Court and Holkham Hall. Indeed, a drawing by John Vardy (see fig. 1) who worked with Kent in the Office of Works, corresponds closely to the group with its Ionic capital, imbricated body and similar legs. Vardy published Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent in 1744, many of which showed furniture of a decisively Kentian form.
Further examples of 'term' form pedestals close to this design, although displaying female faces, include those at Longford Hall, Wiltshire, those previously at Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire, which were later sold as part of the Hochschild Collection, Sotheby's, London, 1 December 1978, lot 20, and again from The di Portanova Collection, Christie's, New York, 20 October 2000, lot 92. A further pair, almost identical to the current lot, were sold Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1986, lot 26.
WALTER P. CHRYSLER, JR.
These pedestals were offered as part of the celebrated two-part sale of The Collection of Mr. Walter P. Chrysler Jr., at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 29-30 April 1960 (part I) and 6-7 May 1960 (part II). The collection comprised many extraordinary examples attributable to London's pre-eminent Georgian cabinet-makers. A number of these objects came from notable country house collections such as Rokeby Hall in Yorkshire, Croome Court in Worcestershire, Hamilton Palace in Glasgow and Ditton Park in Surrey.
Walter P. Chrysler Jr.'s interest in art began at a very early age. The son of the famed automobile magnet, he purchased his first painting, a small Renoir landscape, at the age of fourteen. He was a passionate collector, one without bounds, collecting items from all continents, from the ancient to the modern. In 1971 he gave a large part of his collection to the city of Norfolk, Virginia whose museum now bears his name.