PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE PENNSYLVANIA COLLECTION
each hinged top with a fruitwood banding painted with flowerheads alternating with peacock feathers and opening to a green baize lining, the conforming frieze centerd by a panel painted with swirling flowering foliage flanked by a pair of panels painted with a two ribbon-tied oak-leaf sprigs, raised on square tapering legs painted with bell-flower drops on spade feet. The reverse of one with an old paper label with the arms of ..., the underside of the top with pencilled inscription House / 13th Augst / N2., and Peacock, the underside of the other with pencilled inscription House / 13th Augst / N1. and with Peacock / W...room.
William John Manners Tollemache, 9th Earl of Dysart (d. 1935) and probably by descent to Wenefryde Greaves, Countess of Dysart (d. 1975), Stobo Castle, Scotland, by whom sold
Sotheby's, London, The Contents of Stobo Castle, Peeblesshire, Scotland, April 10-11, 1972, lot 93
Acquired from the above and thence by descent
The firm of Seddon was founded in 1753 by George Seddon (c.1727-1801) who bought London House, the former residence of the Bishop of London, together with its two-acre plot in Aldersgate St., where he established his shop and galleries. It rapidly grew in size and by 1783 Seddon employed nearly `three hundred of the most capital hands' in London. In 1786 the workshops were visited by a Miss Sophie Van La Roche, who recorded in her journal that `Some other department contains nothing but chairs, sofa, stools of every description, some quite simple, others exquisitely carved and made of all varieties of wood...while others are occupied by writing-tables, cupboards, chests of drawers, charmingly fashioned desks, chest both large and small, work- and toilet-tables of all manner of wood and patterns, from the simplest and cheapest to the most elegant and expensive.'; see Christopher Gilbert and Lucy Wood, 'Sophie Von La Roche at Seddon's', The Journal of The Furniture History Society, 1997, pp. 30-34.
Despite their stature as one of the leading cabinet makers in the latter part of the 18th century whose known clients included the Empress of Russia, the 5th Duke of Bedford, Lord Howard of Audley End and Lord Mansfield of Kenwood House, few pieces survived which can be associated with these commissions. Two of the largest groups which survive with their original invoices were supplied to D. Tupper of Hauteville House, Guernsey in 1790, and Richard Hall Clarke of Bridwell House, Dorset in 1793, both of which included satinwood seat furniture and tables painted with flowers and peacock feathers; see an example of satinwood card table painted with roses and peacock feathers, Christopher Gilbert, 'Seddon, Sons & Shackleton', The Journal of The Furniture History Society, 1997, p. 6, fig. 3, and a mahogany example, p. 17, fig. 21. These distinctive pieces do allow one to recognize a facet of Seddon's house style, but the small number of others recorded with labels precludes one from making a stylistic analysis of the actual output of the shop. The suite of furniture the firm supplied to Richard Hall Clarke of Bridwell House, Devon, was sold, Sotheby's, London, June 19, 1981, lot 109 and again, July 9, 1993, lots 172-3. A related pair of painted satinwood tables attributed to Seddon was sold, Sotheby's, London, July 7, 2000, lot 35 (£42,000). Seddon specialized in furniture of this type, establishing himself as the leading exponent of the use of painted satinwood. The exceptional quality of the silky, well-chosen West Indian satinwood timber used, together with the painted decoration of peacock feathers and roses, clearly indicates the superb craftsmanship of the cabinet-makers working for Seddon.
The arms are those of Tollemache, Earls of Dysart, possibly for either Lionel, 5th Earl (1734-1799) who married Charlotte (d. 1789), illegitimate daughter of the Hon. Sir Edward Walpole, KB, secondly married Magdalene, daughter of David Lewis of Malvern Hall, Warwickshire in 1791. or possibly Wilbraham, 6th Earl, (1739-1821), who in 1773 married Anna Maria, daughter of David Lewis of Malvern Hall.
Although the Dysart provenance might suggest that the tables could possibly have come from Ham House, they are not recorded there in 1844 or in any earlier inventories. Built for Sir James Montgomery in 1811, Stobo Castle, Peeblesshire, was bought by the Countess of Dysart in 1934, who transferred some of the property from Ham House. Ham House was given to the National Trust in 1948.
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