This screen and its pair in the following lot were almost certainly commissioned by Francis Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, 1st Earl Brooke, and 1st Earl of Warwick, who married in 1742 Elizabeth, the daughter of Lord Archibald Hamilton, younger brother of William, Duke of Hamilton, and a sister of Sir William Hamilton, one of the great cognoscenti of his age and George III’s Ambassador to the Court of Naples.
The offered lot is almost certainly one of the screens referred to in an inventory of the contents of Warwick Castle, dated November 4th 1809, which records in the Dining Room `2 Horse fire screens'. (Warwick County Records Ref.1886 ( box 466). Further references are made by William Kendall, Appraiser, Warwick in an inventory dated 31st October 1853 and carried out following the death of the Right Honourable Henry Richard, Earl Brooke, and Earl of Warwick who died on 10th August 1853, who lists in the Great Dining Room, `2 Tapestry fire screens in mahogany frames'. (Warwick County Records 1886/783/16). An inventory entitled `Schedule of Articles at Warwick Castle which are of National or Historical Interest December 1924', prepared by H.G.Godfrey-Payton, Warwick Castle Estate Office, lists in the Great Dining Room `4' 0'' carved Chinese Chippendale chevel [sic] screen with tapestry panel on four shaped legs'. (Warwick County Records 1886 CR708). One is also shown in a photograph taken by Country Life in 1914.
Literature and Comparative References
Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director, 1st Edition, 1754, Pl. CXXVI.
H. C. Marillier, English Tapestries of the 18th Century, London, 1930, plates 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, for related arabesque wall tapestries
Christopher Gilbert and Geoffrey Beard, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, 1986
Warwick Castle Guide Book, 1972, the ‘Cockatoo Screen’ shown in The Cedar Drawing Room, the ‘Pheasant Screen’ shown in The Green Drawing Room
Warwick Castle Guide Book, 1986, p. 12, the ‘Cockatoo Screen’ shown in The Green Drawing Room
Geoffrey Beard, Upholsterers & Interior Furnishing in England 1530-1840, 1997, pp. 153-155, figs. 196-197, 198, 203
The design for the screens is almost identical to plate CXXVI published by Thomas Chippendale in the first edition of his The Gentleman and Cabinet-Makers Director 1754, ( see illustration) but does not appear in the 3rd edition published in 1763. Conceived in finely grained mahogany, the carved frames have blind-fret and pierced decoration in the gothic manner and retain their original English tapestry panels woven in coloured silk and wool in the arabesque style with respectively a brightly coloured golden pheasant and a crested cockatoo. Each bird is perched on a foliate scrolled bracket placed within a scrolled strap- work cartouche ornamented with foliate scrolls and garlands of summer flowers.
The design of the panels and the birds in particular are closely related to the arabesque tapestries woven by Joshua Morris at his Soho workshop in Frith Street, 1720-1728. The tapestry workshops in Soho had their origin in those established in 1619 at Mortlake under Royal Patronage which were subsequently set up in Great Queen Street under the patronage of the Great Wardrobe’s master, Ralph Montagu, later first Duke of Montagu. Morris produced tapestries of high quality which were probably designed by Andien de Clermont, a French painter resident in England from 1716 to 1756. On his departure from Frith Street in 1728, the premises were taken over by William Bradshaw (1728-d.1775), the cabinet maker upholder and ‘tapissier’ who, in partnership with the artist Tobias Stanover, continued the weaving of tapestries, their designs clearly showing the continuing influence of the cartoons employed by Morris. A suite of seat furniture, formerly in the collection of Lord Brownlow at Belton House, includes a settee with Soho tapestry covers worked with vases of flowers and birds, similar to those on the present screen, the borders of which are signed Stranover Bradshaw (See: G. Beard, Upholsterers & Interior Furnishing in England 1530-1840, p. 183, figs. 176-177). This partnership appears to have been dissolved some two years later when Bradshaw moved to a house at 27 Soho Square, occupying only the back premises of the property in Greek Street after 1748. In 1755 the workshops were taken over by his possible relation George Smith Bradshaw and Paul Saunders.
Documented clients of Bradshaw include the second Earl Stanhope, a suite of seat furniture with tapestry covers remaining at Chevening (Beard, op. cit., fig 198), and Sir Jacob Bouverie of Longford Castle for whom he supplied upholstery in 1741possibly for the seat furniture supplied by Benjamin Goodison. Other commissions, such as the that for the 1st Earl of Leicester at Holkham, William Robinson at Newby Park and James West at Alscot Park, clearly indicate that in addition to supplying tapestries and upholstery, he was also engaged in supplying seat and other items of furniture from his own workshop. It is also of interest to note that he was presumably the ‘William Bradshaw, Esq.’ who subscribed to Chippendale’s Director in 1754, plate CXXVI being the source of the design for the present screens. It would seem therefore a strong probability that William Bradshaw not only supplied the tapestry panels but also the frames.
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