A pair of George II giltwood mirrors circa 1735, Attributed to Benjamin Goodison
- 135cm. high, 101cm. wide, 19cm. deep; 4ft. 6in., 3ft. 4in., 7½in.
Probably supplied to William Stanhope, Baron Harrington and later 1st Earl of Harrington (c.1690-1756) for Petersham Lodge, Richmond, Surry designed by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington in circa 1733.
Thence by descent in the family until sold, Property of the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Harrington (the 11th Earl), removed from Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire, Sotheby's London, 8 November 1963, lot 142.
Purchased by Mallett, London, for £1,300, from whom they were presumably acquired by the then owner of 96 Cheyne Walk, London.
Purchased by a forebear of the current owners in the early 1970s along with the house on Cheyne Walk.
These mirrors were most probably commissioned by soldier politician William Stanhope (1683?-1756) Baron Harrington and later 1st Earl of Harrington for Petersham Lodge, Surrey in the mid 1730s. In 1733 Harrington commissioned Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, 'the architect Earl' to create a new Palladian villa on the site of an earlier house that had been destroyed by fire in 1721. That Harrington entrusted his friend Burlington, to design the house, would have automatically established a connection with Burlington's artistic circle including the precocious talent of William Kent and his group of craftsmen which would have almost certainly included Benjamin Goodison, one of Kent's favoured cabinet-makers.
This magnificent pair of mirrors belong to a group widely attributed to the Royal cabinet-maker Benjamin Goodison of the 'Golden Spread Eagle,' Long Acre, London who appears to have been apprenticed to the Royal cabinet-maker James Moore, signing various documents for his 'Master, James Moore' including one to the Duchess of Marlborough in 1719 and another in 1720 to the 3rd Earl of Burlington. By 1725 he appears to have begun his own business, succeeding Moore in Royal service after his death in 1726-27. His name appears with some regularity in the Royal accounts after this date, the Royal Wardrobe being under the control of Sir Thomas Robinson from the late 1730s. Robinson was responsible for authorizing payments to Goodison, who also worked for Frederick, Prince of Wales, and also to William Kent and his circle. Goodison's name appears frequently in the accounts of the Royal Household for work supplied to the Royal Palaces of St. James's, Kensington, Kew and Windsor Castle. His work appears to be extensive in range, not only supplying pieces in carved giltwood including tables, mirrors and sconces, but also cabinet work in both mahogany and walnut. His recorded aristocratic clients included the 1st and 2nd Viscount Folkestone at Longford Castle, Sarah Duchess of Marlborough, the 1st Earl of Leicester at Holkham and the 4th Duke of Bedford. Other mirrors attributed to Goodison and resembling the current lot include one sold Sotheby's London, 26 May 1967, lot 122, another Sotheby's London, 5 July 1991, lot 50, and most recently a very similarly conceived pair of smaller size thought to have been commissioned by Henry, 4th Earl of Carlisle (1694-1758) for Castle Howard, Morpeth, Yorkshire was sold Bonhams London, 3 November 2010, lot 9 which were attributed to John and Thomas Vardy.
Goodison's accounts for Frederick Prince of Wales at Hampton Court and Kew Palace include eight 'carved and gilt Term Fashion,' four for each Palace, which are described as '4 Rich Terms with Boys Heads & Ionick Capitals...very Rich' and 4 Rich Terms wth. Warrior Heads and Dorick Caps,' the first costing £42, the second £32.Unfortunately none of these appear to have survived in the Royal Collection, although two closely related sets with the female heads remain in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court Palace. The first is adorned with a necklace and has a less heavily carved term, the other with more heavily draped shoulders (See: Old Furniture, October/ December 1927, F. J. Rutherford, 'The Furnishing of Hampton Court Palace,' pp. 180-187, p. 184). Most interestingly two pairs of further stands with similarly conceived female heads, which were also formerly in the collection of the Earls of Harrington at Elvaston Castle, were sold at the same Sotheby's sale in 1963 as this pair of mirrors, appearing as lots 165 and 166. It is probable that these too were commissioned by Lord Harrington for his Palladian villa, Petersham Lodge.