286
286

PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT CALIFORNIA COLLECTION

A GEORGE I GILT GESSO AND LACQUER PIER TABLE, CIRCA 1725, ADAPTED
Estimate
60,00090,000
LOT SOLD. 72,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
286

PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT CALIFORNIA COLLECTION

A GEORGE I GILT GESSO AND LACQUER PIER TABLE, CIRCA 1725, ADAPTED
Estimate
60,00090,000
LOT SOLD. 72,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Collections: European Decorative Arts

|
New York

A GEORGE I GILT GESSO AND LACQUER PIER TABLE, CIRCA 1725, ADAPTED
height 33 in.; width 42 in.; depth 21 1/4 in.
84 cm; 106.5 cm; 54 cm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

By repute, Queen Mary (1867-1953)
Thence by descent to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, Duchess of Kent (1906-1968)
Thence by descent to Princess and Prince Michael of Kent
Partridge Fine Art Ltd, London

Catalogue Note

This exquisite table was photographed by Cecil Beaton with Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, standing in front of it in 1956 when it was at Kensington Palace (fig. 1). Princess Marina, then the current owner of the table, most likely inherited it from her mother-in-law, Queen Mary of Teck, consort to George V. Princess Marina married Queen Mary’s 4th son, Prince George, Duke of Kent in 1934. Princess Marina was known as a fashion icon and a great beauty. Upon her death in 1968, Cecil Beaton, who photographed her frequently, said, ‘for people my age the loss is great for she was so much part of an era, and she added so much to the early days. She was always so vividly around, even until now, so that with her going she leaves a very great gap’.

Princess Marina and Prince George initially set up their home at No.3 Belgrave Square in London and Coppins, a country home in Buckinghamshire. Their short lived marriage ended on August 25, 1942 when Prince George was killed in a military plane crash in Scotland. Thus widowed and with no financial assistance, Princess Marina was helped by her brother-in-law King George VI and mother-in-law Her Majesty Queen Mary. In 1955, thanks to the help of her husband’s family, Marina and her children moved into Apartment No. 1 at Kensington Palace. To make this new residence their home, Marina began to decorate with the help of Felix Harbord, a top English decorator who interestingly enough ended up serving as a “Monuments Man” in World War II. Harbord and Princess Marina incorporated many of her late husband’s antiques into their interior schemes, which is most likely when and how this table came into her possession.

Prior to Princess Marina using it in her Kensington apartment, it was reputedly in the possession of Queen Mary of Teck. Queen Mary married King George when he was the Prince of Wales and she was Princess May of Teck, a daughter of a German duke of morganatic birth and the Princess of Cambridge. Queen Mary’s father, the Duke of Teck, was an avid decorator and constantly redesigned the rooms of her youth. While Queen Mary was more interested in scholarly pursuits, she was raised with an eye towards the aesthetic. It is yet to be discovered how and when this table came into her possession, but it seems it passed from her to her son and then to Princess Marina.

After Princess Marina, the table went to her son and daughter-in-law: Princess and Prince Michael of Kent. The couple currently resides in apartment 10 at Kensington Palace. Princess Michael of Kent served as the President of Partridge Fine Art between 2007 and 2011, which is how this table came to be sold through Partridge.

While most of the known portion of this table’s unique and exciting history occurs in the nineteenth century, it was originally created during the early eighteenth century. Originally, the gilt-gesso base probably supported a cabinet or a gilt-gesso top, but it was later changed to its current lacquer top. The Greek-key decoration running across the frieze and legs is seen on several other tables from 1715-1720 and are consistently attributed to the well-known maker James Moore. Moore, and his partner John Gumley, are best known for their extraordinary gilt-gesso furniture. Most famously, a Greek-key decorated suite was supplied to George I at Kensington Palace by James Moore (as convincingly argued by Adam Bowett, “George I’s Furniture at Kensington Palace", Apollo, Nov. 2005, pg. 46). George I used Moore’s gilt-gesso creations to decorate and furnish Kensington Palace. The private apartments once held a lacquer cabinet on a similar Greek-key patterned stand, which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (illustrated Tessa Murdoch, “The king’s cabinet-maker: the giltwood furniture of James Moore the Elder”, The Burlington Magazine, June 2003, fig. 1). Another table, formerly part of a pair and commissioned for the Pillar Room, which was the entrance to the private apartments, in 1722, has a gilt-gesso top bearing the royal cypher of George I with the name “Moore” incised on the outer border and is illustrated in Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. 3, Suffolk:  1983, p. 281, fig. 22, 23.

While the present example had a different top in the time of George I, there were in fact tables with lacquer tops in the early eighteenth century. A table supplied by Gumley and Moore for the Prince of Wales’s bedchamber at Hampton Court Palace is one example. It was unfortunately destroyed in the fire of 1986, but is illustrated Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, Suffolk: 2009, pl. 5:4. This table is the first known example with square-form legs, a design feature copied from Chinese altar tables. Another pair of tables with lacquer tops and attributed to Moore were made for the Duke of Newcastle and are illustrated in ibid., pl. 5:10. Another table attributed to Moore was sold Sotheby’s London, July 9, 1999, lot 51. Other gilt-gesso tables with Greek-key friezes but with gilt-gesso tops are in the collections of Lord Egremont at Petworth House, Sussex and of the Duke of Grafton at Euston Hall, Suffolk.

This table, while similar in many ways to the aforementioned examples, is structurally unique. Departing from Moore’s traditional design, the present table has no bracket-shaped aprons on the sides. Instead, our example has a lambrequin centered on the front apron. While aprons do appear in examples by Moore, such as a lavish pair of tables made for the Privy Chamber in the King’s apartments at Kensington Palace, they always include a stretcher.

Collections: European Decorative Arts

|
New York