For the design see Thomas Hope, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, London, 1807, pl. 11, nos. 3 and 4;
Ed. Watkin. D & Hewat–Jaboor. P., Thomas Hope Regency Designer, Italy, 2008, p. 372 & 373
This pair of 'Egyptian' pattern chairs are amongst a handful of known examples and were designed by the celebrated arbiter of early Regency taste, Thomas Hope (1769–1831). Hope acquired his renowned house on Duchess Street in 1799 and quickly set about remodelling and furnishing it in a style strongly inspired by his Grand Tours of Greece and Egypt.
The design employed with these chairs is identical to that of a chair illustrated in Hope's Regency Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807, pl. XI, nos. 3 and 4; using the same X-frame backrest, outswept legs and griffin arms (fig. 1). Hope's interest in Egyptiana is reflected by the bodies of these griffins, that are couched like sphinxes, emblematic of Egypt, and are modelled on Rome's celebrated antiquities known as the 'Capitoline's Egyptian lions'. Hope also owned a copy of C. Percier and P. Fontaine's influential Recueil de Décorations Interieures, 1801, in which is illustrated a sphinx-armed seat in an engraving symbolising the Cardinal Art of Architecture. A chair of this exact pattern is illustrated in an 1819 watercolour of the Flemish picture gallery at Duchess Street providing a fascinating glimpse into what the rooms looked like (Ed. Watkin. D & Hewat–Jaboor. P., op. cit., p. 372, fig. 65-2).
An almost identical chair, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, has been attributed to the Mount Street firm of court cabinet-makers run by Charles Heathcote Tatham's brother Thomas Tatham in partnership with William Marsh. The chair was sold by the late Mrs. Marjorie Beatrix Fairbarns, Christie’s London, 9 July 1992, lot 87. It is possible that the chair, like much of Hope's richly carved furniture, was executed by the talented Dutch craftsman, Peter Bogaert of Tottenham Court Road (Ed. Watkin. D & Hewat–Jaboor. P., op. cit., p. 372). Another chair was sold Christie’s London, 8 June 2006, lot 96, (£72,000 inclusive of premium). This chair was thought to belong to Hope’s contemporary and friend the poet Samuel Rogers. The contents of Rogers' home, 22 St James's Place, London, were sold 29 May 1856, and the 2006 example was possibly part of lot 38, 'A PAIR OF BEAUTIFUL MAHOGANY CHAIRS’, the arms supported by griffins; and a stool, with swans - en suite, of classical design'. Rogers' chair appears to be identical in design to the present lot and it is conceivable that they once belonged to the same suite. See ed. Watkin. D & Hewat – Jaboor. P., Thomas Hope Regency Designer, Italy, 2008, pp. 372 – 373, cat. No. 65, for further discussion on this group of chairs. For a variant of this design, with rams head terminals instead of lions, see a chair sold, Sotheby's, Much Hadham Hall, Hertfordshire, 1 October 1980, lot 703.
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