with a fielded paneled back surmounted by a broken foliate ornamented scrolled pediment centered by a shell above a Vitruvian scrolled panel and a female mask with pendant husks below, the outwardly curved arms with scrolled terminals above foliate carved supports, the seat similarly paneled and supported on foliate carved cabriole legs with hoof feet, now painted stone gray with traces of earlier paint below.
By repute, Rushbrooke Hall Suffolk
Possibly anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, March 9, 1982, lot 59A
Aurélia and Anne Lovreglio, Dictionnaire des Mobiliers et des Objets d'art du Moyen Age au XXI siècle, Paris, 2006, p. 195, fig. 3
Isaac Ware, Designs of Inigo Jones and Others, London
J. Vardy, Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. Wm. Kent, London, 1744
C. Latham, In English Homes, London, 1904, vol. I, pp. 125-129, 'Rushbrooke Hall'
Margaret Jourdain, The Work of William Kent, 1948, p. 153, fig. 101, the Ditchley Settees
Christopher Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, Leeds, 1978, vol. II, pp. 324-326
Michael Wilson, William Kent, London, 1984, p. 101, fig. 26, the Raynham Hall Settees
The Magazine Antiques, June, 1986, "William Kent's furniture designs and the furniture makers," Geoffrey Beard, pp. 1278-1291
Giles Worsley, England's Lost Houses, London 2002, pp. 146-147
With the reputed provenance of Rushbrooke Hall, Suffolk, these important settees were probably originally commissioned by Sir Jermyn Davers (d. 1750), the M. P. for Suffolk, who altered the existing Tudor mansion, which was the ancestral seat of the Jermyn family in the mid 1730s. The north side of the brick moated house was refaced and refenestrated and an 'impressive, double height hall' was created. Although Rushbrooke was demolished in the early 1960s, a photograph of this room was used to illustrate an article by Charles Latham in In English Homes published in 1904. As Giles Worsley remarks in England's Lost Houses, this was 'the finest room in the house,' continuing 'A pair of caryatids, with their hands apparently slipped comfortably into their pockets under their drapes, support a massive marble chimneypiece, hung with garlands of fruit. Further garlands drop from open scallop shells bearing grotesque faces, flanking an elaborate overmantel that...probably once held a portrait of the owner.' The present settees are not shown, the room being furnished in the comfortable and cluttered style of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, with an assortment of late 17th century, Georgian and Victorian chairs, stuffed birds in glass cases, and even an artfully placed stuffed peacock on a stand.
This is the only surviving document picturing the room, although it seems that it was of considerable length with a further chimneypiece on the opposing wall. Unfortunately, the architect responsible does not appear to be recorded, although its Palladian grandeur owes much to the influence of the designs of Inigo Jones and William Kent published by Isaac Ware in Designs of Inigo Jones and Others, and by John Vardy in Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. Wm. Kent, published in 1744, see fig. 1. In particular, certain elements of the design for the present settees appear in the latter, page 42, illustrating A Settee & Top for one, the paneled back and scrolled pediment being centered by a shell above a Vitruvian scroll ornamented panel, although the outwardly scrolled arms and stiff cabriole legs are less massive in their form than those shown in Kent's original design. This appears to have been originally commissioned by Sir John Dutton as part of a larger suite of seat furniture for his hunting and banqueting lodge at Sherborne' Gloucestershire in 1731. Supplied by the Royal Cabinetmaker James Moore, the suite included settees, stools and chairs, all made in mahogany (See: C. Gilbert, 'James Moore, the Younger, and William Kent at Sherborne House,' The Burlington Magazine, March 1969, pp. 148-149, figs. 51-54). Other hall furniture related to Kent's design for Sir John Dutton is at Houghton House, Raynham Hall and Ditchley Park, all of which are conceived in mahogany.
Originally the Rushbrookee settees were probably part of a larger group of seat furniture, which possibly also included the pair of smaller settees of identical design which were sold anonymously at Sotheby's, London, March 19, 1982, lot 59. In the same sale were a pair of settees (lot 59A), possibly the present lot. Both lots, of which only the first is illustrated in the catalogue, were in unpolished oak. The smaller pair were subsequently repainted and were sold from the collection of Lord Alastair McAlpine by Sotheby's at the sale of the contents of West Green House, Hampshire, May 16, 1990, lot 143.
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