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Details & Cataloguing

Important English Furniture

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London

A pair of George III giltwood armchairs
circa 1760, attributed to John Cobb

the over-upholstered backs with serpentine crest-rails, the out swept padded arms with incurved moulded supports joined to the side seat rail, the upholstered seat with moulded seat rails of serpentine form centred at the front with foliate clasps, and continuing to cabriole legs with scrolled toes and scrolled foliate clasps at the knees, re-gilded, with traces of the original blue japanned decoration


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Provenance

Probably commissioned by George, 2nd Earl of Pomfret and his wife Anna Maria Draycott, for the Drawing Room, Easton Neston;
A chair from the suite appears in a photograph, Easton Neston, Entrance Hall, circa 1880

Literature

T.G.Litchfield, 3 Bruton St., London, The Valuation and Inventory of the more important furniture, China, Articles of Vertu, Decorations and Pictures at Easton Neston, February  1889, part on p.23 and part on p.37, as 'A suite of carved and gilt furniture';
H. Avray Tipping, ' Easton Neston - II, Northamptonshire, The Seat of Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh Bt.', Country Life, November 14th 1908, p.669, part of the suite shown in the Large Drawing Room, possibly with needlework covers;
Messrs Foster, Auctioneers & Valuers, Pall Mall, London, Hon. Sir Thomas Hesketh; The Inventory of the contents of the Mansion Easton Neston House, Towcester, August 1910, pp.116, 118 & 120, on the Grand Staircase as 'a pair of mahogany armchairs upholstered en suite', 'two further pairs en suite' and another pair;
EN 1923, p.20, item 1, £1,800, listed under the 'Contents of all other remaining rooms and bedrooms';
AP 1927, p.31, item 1, £1,250, listed under 'Furniture in Various Reception Rooms';
H. Avray Tipping, 'Easton Neston - II, Northamptonshire, The Seat of Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, Bt.', Country Life, 27th August 1927, p.298, fig.3, part of the suite shown in The Saloon;
James Lees-Milne, 'Easton Neston, Northamptonshire', English Country Houses Baroque 1685-1715, 1970, p.143, fig.228

Catalogue Note

The present armchairs forming part of a larger suite including the following two lots were probably commissioned shortly after George 2nd Earl Pomfret's marriage to Anna Maria Draycott in 1764 from the London firm of Royal cabinet-makers William Vile and John Cobb (Vile, the senior partner, retired in 1764). Their partnership seems to have started in 1751, at which time there appears to have been a close connection with the cabinet-maker William Hallett. Recorded as the 'Master' of William Vile, who was supposedly a journeyman in Hallett's employ, bank records indicate several large payments were made to him during the life of the partnership possibly indicating that he retained a financial interest in the firm. It is also interesting to note that William Hallett, as recorded in her diary, was visited by the 1st Countess of Pomfret in 1752.

Chairs of this form, with their richly curved and molded frames, were described in pattern books such as Chippendale's Director as 'French Chairs', their profile being derived from contemporary French examples designed in the rococo taste. Originally with a blue japanned finish the present chairs are related in design to another suite of seat furniture which was commissioned by the 6th Earl of Coventry, Croome Court, Worcestershire. Although the arms differ in that they are attached to the upper part of the seat frame, not at the side, the frames overall have a very similar profile, the seat-rails and legs being fluidly molded in both instances. The Croome suite, which was in carved mahogany, appears in an account dated 25 June 1761 and included '7 Handsome Carv'd Mahogy Arm'd Chairs on Castors Stuff'd and Quilted, & Cover'd with Morrocco Leather, and finish'd Complete, with the best Burnish'd Nailes at £7 each' continuing on 5 July 'For 2 Handsome Carv'd Mahogy Sopphoys on Castors Stuff'd and Quilted and Cover'd with red Morrocco Leather, and finish'd Complete with Burnish'd Nailes  36. -. -.'. This pair of sofas, together with six of the chairs, was sold at Sotheby's in 1948.  A further suite of this design, but in gilt-wood, was also supplied to Lord Coventry in 1768 which included eight 'French pattern' arm chairs and two 'french sofas' which were covered in 'your Crimson silk damask' (See Geoffrey Beard and Judith Goodison, English Furniture 1500-1840, 1987, p.137, pls.4 and 5). It is interesting to note that in early photographs the present suite seems to have tapestry covers, although their lack of detail makes it impossible make a judgement as to their origin.          

Important English Furniture

|
London