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A SUITE OF SEAT-FURNITURE POSSIBLY BY MAYHEW AND INCE
Designed in the Louis XVI manner, with their 'medallion' backs in the popularised by Jean-Charles Delafosse in Le Meuble /ga l'Epoque Louis XVI, Paris, n.d., this suite of seat-furniture shares much in common with the documented oeuvre of the Golden Square firm of John Mayhew and William Ince. Authors of the Universal System of Household Furniture, 1762 and close collaborators with the architect Robert Adam, they specialised in the manufacture of elegant furniture in the 'antique' manner. In particular, the elliptic cresting, which corresponds to patterns for vase-capped bed and window pelmets introduced around 1780 and later popularised by Messrs. A. Hepplewhite & Co's The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, London, 1788, became a particular characteristic of Mayhew and Ince case-furniture. It relates in particular to a pair of cabinets that are thought to have been supplied to the 5th Earl of Chesterfield by Mayhew and Ince, who also executed his elliptical marquetry commode to Robert Adam's design of 1774 (L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, no.23). The Chesterfield cabinets were sold by direction of the Executors of the late 1st Viscount Leverhulme, the Anderson Galleries, New York, 11 February 1926, lots 363 and 364. Interestingly, a suite of related seat-furniture, sold anonymously at Phillips, 20 April 1999, lot 49, was also from Chesterfield House, whilst two further suites are known to have been supplied to Mayhew and Ince houses- Cobham Hall in Kent and Chirk Castle, Denbighshire. Although of slightly earlier, more robust neo-classical design of the mid-1770's, these suites included armchairs, window-seats and settees.
Perhaps the closest parallel stylistically can be drawn with a pair of berg/geres from Moccas Court, Herefordshire. Almost certainly supplied to Sir George Cornewall following his marriage in 1771 to Catherine Cornewall, they display the same colour scheme and distinctive eliptical patera to the toprail (illustrated in L. Synge, Great English Furniture, London, 1991, p.164).
In their distinctive green and white palette, with much of the original decoration retained beneath the current flaking overdecoration, this suite is clearly influenced bu the celebrated suite of seat-furniture supplied to the actor and theatrical impresario, David Garrick for his villa on the Thames at Hampton in the mid-1770's by Thomas Chippendale. Famous even in the 18th Century and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the suite is discussed in C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, pp.236-243 and vol. II, figs. 46, 62 and 238.
A related suite possibly supplied to Sir Roger Mostyn, 5th Bt., for Bodysgallen Hall, North Wales, with blue and white decoration, was sold in these Rooms, 17 April 1997, lots 111-114.