The Harewood Connection
The current table is identical in form to a pier table at Harewood House, Yorkshire (see fig.4) which is currently in the Princess Royal's Dressing Room. The offered table includes a foliate scrolled and stylised shell-centred apron which is most probably lacking form the example at Harewood where small pin or nail holes are evident to the underside of the frieze, there is also the possibility that further carved elements were present between the outer and inner legs on both examples. There is almost conclusive evidence that the current table and the Harewood example were originally a pair and were separated at some point in the late 19th or early 20th century. The tables have identical construction and choice of timbers and some of the fruitwood ground veneers to the segmented top appear to have been cut from the same source of timber. There are very minor differences in the dimensions of the two tables, with less than one centimeter difference in the height and width while the depth is the same. Whilst it is not presently known when the current table left Harewood, it does not appear in either of the major sales in 1951 or 1965, it may well have left the collection in the years following the Sir Charles Barry refurbishments of 1844-5 when many of the interiors were updated in the Victorian taste. It was at this stage that much of the peripheral ornamentation of the grand Chippendale mirrors were removed and placed in store along with other pieces of Chippendale furniture, such as the State Bed where they remained until the mid-1980s when alighted upon by Christopher Gilbert. It is also feasible that the carved apron, lacking on the Harewood example was removed at this stage also.
Harewood: Chippendale's Greatest Commission
Chippendale's commission at Harewood House was the most valuable and probably most extensive of his career. The first documented record of Chippendale's involvement at Harewood is in a letter dated 19 July 1767 from the cabinet-maker to another of his patrons, Sir Rowland Winn of Nostell Priory, in which he wrote 'As soon as I had got to Mr Lascelles and look'd over the whole of ye house I found that [I] Shou'd want a Many designs & knowing that I had time Enough I went to York to do them'.
Edwin Lascelles had commissioned John Carr of York to design him a new house shortly after receiving the huge inheritance upon his father's death. Early plans by Sir William Chambers were rejected and Carr's plans were shown to the young Robert Adam in 1758, who had freshly returned from three years of study in Italy, with a view to the interiors. Adam did little to alter Carr's plan, who had already been involved at Harewood on the stables, farm, house and model village. The foundation stone of the new house was laid in 1759, Adam's decorative schemes date to 1765 and Chippendale's visit in 1767 would have been about four years before the house was inhabitable. What ensued was a commission of considerable scale. Whilst the early invoices for furniture have never been discovered, a reference contained within the major surviving invoice refers to earlier work, prior to 1772, amounting to £3,024, 19.s 3d. The major invoice that relates to work to June 1777 was nearly £7,000 and as Christopher Gilbert notes in his seminal work on Chippendale it is likely that the full commission exceeded £10,000, a vast sum at that time. The commission continued past the retirement of Chippendale Snr. in 1776, overseen by his son until 1797. To give an indication of the importance and significance of this commission, the sheer cost magnificently out-weighed that of many of Chippendale's other highly regarded clients. For example, Sir Lawrence Dundas' bill amounted to £1,300 for the work between 1763-66 which included the ornate chairs made to Robert Adam's design and supplied for Arlington Street, London, and Sir Rowland Winn's patronage at Nostell amounted to around £2,000 for the work undertaken up to 1771.
The design of this table shares components of the design with Chippendale's other neo-classical commissions and indeed other pieces at Harewood. The carved rosette frieze on the current table is virtually replicated in marquetry on the frieze of the famous library table from Harewood (see C. Gilbert, op.cit. vol.II, p. 244, fig. 446), which is also flanked by similar pearl-framed oval patera, was again used to the frieze of the Harrington Commode, sold Sotheby's London, 7 December 2010, lot 69 and the same design in carved mahogany is also present on the library chairs with the lyre backs supplied to Sir Roland Winn at Nostell Priory supplied a little earlier in 1768. The form of the foot on the current table may be compared to those found on the suite of twelve armchairs, twelve side chairs and four sofas supplied for Brocket Hall circa 1773 (also illustrated in Gilbert, op. cit. p. 109, fig 186).
A report on the gilding history is available from the department upon request.
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