Probably supplied to Edmund Boyle, 7th Earl of Cork and Orrery (1742-1798) for Marston House Frome, Somerset.
Thence by descent until passed into the control of Frome Rural District Council circa 1895 from whom purchased by the current owner.
The oval carved paterae and fluted ornament on the present desk are motifs often found on the documented work of the firm Mayhew and Ince.
The firm of John Mayhew ( 1736-1811) and William Ince (d.1804) was one of the most successful and enduring partnerships of cabinet-makers in the 18th century. They are first recorded as partners in December 1758, advertising from an address at Broad Street in January 1759. Earlier, Mayhew had been apprenticed to William Bradshaw, and Ince to John West, before forming a brief partnership after West`s death in 1758 with Samuel Norman and James Whittle. In 1763 they were described as ` cabinet-makers, carvers and upholders', and in 1778 `manufacturers of plate glass' appeared on their bill heading. From the 1780s the categories of `cabinet-maker' and upholsterer predominate, reflecting the change in taste from carved to veneered and inalid furniture, which was more fashionable. One of their early ventures was to publish The Universal System of Household Furniture in 1762 which included eighty-nine numbered plates dedicated to 4th Duke of Marlborough. The relative failure of this work, which was issued in only one edition, was proabaly caused by the distinctly rococo manner of the designs which was to become rapidly unfashionable in the next few years due to the rise of the neo-classical taste and the architect Robert Adam. The partnership was not slow in embracing these new forms which can be seen in the present lot and their close involvement with Adam himself in making furniture to his own designs for many of his important clients. Some of Mayhew and Ince`s important patrons included the Prince of Wales, 5th Duke of Devonshire, 5th Duke of Bedford, 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and 7th Baron Digby.
This library Desk's locks were provided by Edward Gascoigne of St. James's, London, a preeminent locksmith and metalworker in the second half of the 18th century whose locks appear of some of the finest and most prestigious furniture of this date. Gascoigne's locks were also fitted to Queen Charlotte's medal-case, supplied in 1762 by Messrs. Vile and Cobb (L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, pp. 184-185). His locks also feature on a magnificent mahogany commode, which Chippendale supplied for the St. James's Square mansion of Sir Rowland Winn of Nostell Priory (sold from the Samuel Messer Collection, Christie's London, 5 December 1991, lot 130).
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