137
137
A late George III gilt-bronze mounted mahogany library bookcase incorporating a concealed door

Circa 1805-10, attributed to Marsh and Tatham after designs by Thomas Hope

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137
A late George III gilt-bronze mounted mahogany library bookcase incorporating a concealed door

Circa 1805-10, attributed to Marsh and Tatham after designs by Thomas Hope

JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Chatsworth: The Attic Sale

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London

A late George III gilt-bronze mounted mahogany library bookcase incorporating a concealed door

Circa 1805-10, attributed to Marsh and Tatham after designs by Thomas Hope

the cornice with gadrooned gilt metal border and rosettes above reserves including anthemion motifs either side of glazed doors, the central frieze with further gadrooned borders and anthemion decoration supported by ebonised and parcel-gilt monopedia the lower section including a central door with an engraved gilt bronze lozenge and side doors with applied laurel wreaths, with Bramah locks, originally with a white marble shelf and now with a mahogany replacement, most probably fitted at the time of removal from Devonshire House to Chatsworth


288cm. high, 446cm. wide, 36cm. deep; 9ft. 5½in., 14ft. 8in., 1ft. 4in.
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Provenance

Ordered by William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire (1748-1811) in conjunction with Lady Elizabeth Foster, Duchess of Devonshire (1759-1824) as part of their remodelling of the Dukes Bedroom circa 1806.

Literature

Devonshire House Inventory, 1908, p. 22; A 9ft. 3" Empire Mahogany bookcase fitment (part of a group of further, including 3' 9in. Empire Mah. Chest of Drawers with Pediment top containing Clock with signs of the Zodiac, 5ft Gentlemans Wardrobe and Two Empire Occasional Chairs):
Devonshire House Inventory
, 1917, p. 83 in Lord Hartington's Sitting Room; 9' 3" Mahogany Empire Cabinet with centre door leading to Bathroom, the upper panels enclosed by 4 glass doors & 3 panelled doors under, richly mounted in ormolu, with marble shelf in 3 parts & 4 bronze and gilt figure supports

The Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth - The House, London, 2002, p. 194;
The Regency cupboard in the Day Nursery was a fixture from Devonshire House, highly unsuitable for a Nursery, as George IV, a great friend of Georgiana and a constant visitor at Devonshire House, used to go through its doors to Mrs Fitzherbert in the next room there.

Catalogue Note

Commissioned around the time of Thomas Hope's influential Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, of 1807, the form of this bookcase demonstrates the advanced and sophisticated taste of the Cavendish family and a significant change in taste for the 5th Duke who clearly wished to impress his new Duchess, Lady Elizabeth Foster. This commission marks a change in taste from the lighter French inspired furniture of the late 18th century which was so favoured by Georgiana, the 5th Duke's previous wife who died in March 1806. The current bookcase was not a singular acquisition, indeed another Hope-inspired bookcase appears in Hunt's 1822 watercolour of the Lower Library and which is now in the Upper Corridor at Chatsworth whilst an Assyrian lion decorated armchair is recorded in the Saloon in 1807 and remains in the collection. Furthermore, other items included in the sale reflect the strong neoclassical taste and were most probably acquired around this time (see lots 353 a bookcase, and ebonised klismos chairs, lots 372 and 373). As leaders of fashionable London society, the Duke and Duchess would have certainly visited Hope's mansion on Duchess Street and absorbed the styles he so ferociously promoted. Indeed, in the late 1930s Edward Cavendish, the 10th Duke created a strongly Hope-inspired room in what had been Georgiana's Dressing Room at Chatsworth. He hired the renowned dramatist and amateur Hope afficionado, Edward Knoblock and a Mrs Mann to recreate this Regency interior.

The bookcase, which appears to have been situated in The Duke's Bedroom Room or Dressing Room (later Lord Hartington's Room) at Devonshire House, opened to a small closet from which it lead into the Yellow Bedroom through the doors that are offered as lot 139 in this sale. From the small closet and before reaching the Yellow Bedroom, there was a internal staircase that led to a discrete doorway opening on to the courtyard. It was this access that enabled the Prince of Wales to visit his mistress, Lady Fitzherbert, whilst remaining largely unseen. 

The highly neo-classical form of the current bookcase closely relates to a bookcase illustrated by Margaret Jourdain, English Furniture in the Georgian Period (1750-1830), London, 1953, p.123, fig 86. Noted as being with H. Blairman & Sons, dealers who were significant buyers in the Deepdene sale of 1917, Jourdain attributes the design of the bookcase illustrated to Thomas Hope, which is clearly plausible. Decorated with nearly identical bearded herms, supported by muscular lion claw feet and painted to resemble gilt-bronze metal mounts and embellished with similar ornamentation the decorative vocabulary is very much in Hope's oeuvre and that of his contemporaries such as Charles Heathcote Tatham, who published Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture in 1799 and with whom Hope worked. The mask of Hercules with the pelt of the Nemean lion was engraved by Thomas Hope in his celebrated Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, plate 37, alongside Silenus, Bacchante and Juno, described as 'comic' and 'tragic' masks, taken from antique ornaments. The influential publication of Charles Percier and Pierre Françoise Fontaine, Recueil de Décorations Interieures, in 1801 may well also have had a bearing on the design, a table (pl.40) noted as having been made for The Count of P. displays very similarly conceived Herculean terms to those on both bookcases.

Unfortunately there is no firm documentation as to who may have been ultimately responsible for making this piece. There are however a known suite of four bookcases of similar form that were commissioned by the Prince of Wales, later George IV for his magnificent London palace, Carlton House that give an indication of the probable maker. These were supplied by the partnership of William Marsh and Thomas Tatham to the Prince in 1806 as 'Four elegant ebony inlaid yewtree bookcases decorated with bronze and antique heads, rich ormolu ornaments, open brass-work and plate glass etc, to complete the design' at a cost of £680 (illustrated in Hugh Roberts, For the King's Pleasure, London, 2001, fig.379, p.312 and fig.414, p.333) which were subsequently altered by Morel and Hughes when transfered from Carlton House to Windsor Castle in 1827.  One of these bookcases was sold Christie's London, 21 November 1985, lot 96 and subsequently offered, Christie's London, 3 July 1997, lot 70.

Chatsworth: The Attic Sale

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London