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Among the great country houses associated with English furniture, Croome Court in Worcestershire must rate as one of the most famous. The following lots (81-89) all come from Croome and some of them undoubtedly formed part of the furnishings introduced to the house by George William, 6th Earl of Coventry (1722-1809). In 1751 he succeeded to the earldom, and the following year became Lord of the Bedchamber to George II. His marriage to Mary Gunning, one of the most stunning beauties of her age, took place in 1752 and to provide a fitting home for his new wife, he employed Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to rebuild the old family house.
The Earl did not favour just one cabinet-maker: on the contrary he patronised almost all of the leading cabinet-makers of his day, playing them one against another. These include Mayhew and Ince, France and Bradburn, Vile and Cobb, Chippendale and Rannie, Pierre Langlois, John and William Linnell, Gordon and Taitt, Marsh and Tatham, George Seddon and Sons, and Robert and George Gillow. Alongside these cabinet-makers, he employed the young Robert Adam, recently returned from Italy. This resulted in some remarkable collaborations, with designs by Adam executed by Mayhew and Ince, Vile and Cobb, John Bradburn, and the specialist carver, Sefferin Alken. What is so remarkable about these commissions is that so many of the original bills survive and many of the pieces themselves are now in major public collections. Some idea of the scale of the commissions can be gauged by the fact that between 1757 and 1773 Vile and Cobb supplied around 1,300 items. His interests were not confined to England, but to France also, where he purchased some remarkable French objects of art and pieces of furniture through the marchand-mercier, Simon-Philippe Poirier in the Rue Saint-Honoré.
The 6th Earl of Coventry's English furniture is discussed further in A. Coleridge, 'English Furniture supplied for Croome Court, Robert Adam and the 6th Earl of Coventry', Apollo, February 2000, pp. 8-19 and G. Beard, 'Decorators and Furniture Makers at Croome Court', Furniture History, 1993, pp. 88-113.
THE PROPERTY OF THE CROOME ESTATE TRUST