Lot 14
  • 14


80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • parcel-gilt, pine
each decorated with chinoiserie scenes of figures in landscapes, surrounded by scrolling foliage and strapwork, the vase-shaped splat and shaped stiles above a bowed caned seat, on cabriole legs joined by shaped moulded stretchers, on pad feet


Almost certainly supplied to either Don Juan Raimundo de Arteaga-Lazcano y Chiriboga (d. 1761), III Marqués de Valmediano, El Señor de la Casa de Lazcano con Grandeza de España for Lazcano Castle, Guipúzcoa, San Sebastián, Spain, circa 1735-40 and by descent at Lazcano

Or, to Don Juan de Dios de Silva Mendoza y Sandoval, X Duque del Infantado (1672-1737), or his daughter, Doña Maria Teresa de Silva y Mendoza, XI Duquesa del Infantado (1707-1770), and by descent with the Dukes of Infantado to Don Joaquín Maria de Arteaga-Lazcano y Echagüe Silva-Bazán (1870-1947), 17th Duque del Infantado, Lazcano from whom seventy-two pieces of the suite were bought by Adolph Loewi, 1930 , who sold the current chairs as part of a total of twenty-eight chairs to Walter and Lucie Rosen.


R. W. Symonds, ‘Giles Grendey (1693-1780) and the Export Trade of English Furniture to Spain’, Apollo, 1935, pp. 337-342.
R. W. Symonds, Masterpieces of English Furniture and Clocks, London, 1940, pp. 87-88, figs. 56-57.
R. Edwards & M. Jourdain, ‘Georgian Cabinet-Makers VIII - Giles Grendey & William Hallett’, Country Life, 1942, pp. 176-177.
C. de Arteago, La casa del Infantado, cabeza de Mendoza, vol. II, 1944.
R. W. Symonds, ‘In Search of Giles Grendey’, Country Life, 1951, pp. 1792-1794.
R. Edwards & M. Jourdain, Georgian Cabinet-Makers, 1955, p. 145.
C. Gilbert, ‘Furniture by Giles Grendey for the Spanish Trade’, The Magazine Antiques, April 1971, pp. 544-550.
‘English Japanned Furniture’, Connoisseur, June 1964, p. 120.
Leeds Art Calendar, no. 66, 1970, p. 3.
H. Huth, Lacquer of the West, 1971, pls. 65-66.
G. Wills, English Furniture 1550-1760, London, 1971, p. 130.
S. Jervis, ‘A Great dealer in the Cabinet Way: Giles Grendey (1693-1780)’, Country Life, 1974, pp. 1418-1419.
C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, vol. I, Leeds, 1978, pp. 79-81.
G. Beard & C. Gilbert (eds.), The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986, pp. 371-372.
G. Beard & J. Goodison, English Furniture 1500-1840, Oxford, 1987, pp. 34 & 86.
C. Gilbert, The Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, Leeds, 1996, pp. 31-32 & figs. 442-451.
C. Ordoñez Goded, 'Japanning en España. Un lote de muebles de laca color escarlata realizado por Giles Grendey'. Revista de la Asociación para el estudio del mueble, nr. 14. Barcelona, 2011, pp.14-21.

F. Morroni, ‘ Arredi di Giles Grendy per il Re di Napoli’, Antologia di Belle Arti: Studi sul Settecento II, Nuova Serie, NN. 59-60-61-62, 2000, pp. 30-34.


This rare pair of chairs is in reasonable original condition. The chairs joinery, consisting of a pegged mortice and tenon construction is structurally stable. The original painted surface in good condition albeit some small losses. There is minor re-touching, namely to edges as expected. There is evidence of worm which appears to be no longer active. The original caning is of a very high quality. Overall, the chairs exhibit numerous areas of abrasion consistent with age and use including minor losses to the bottoms of the feet. Further to this one chair there are scattered losses to the japanning, to the proper right and proper rear seat posts. The other chair has a loss of a japanned triangular section at the bottom of the center splat.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note


These chairs, exotically coloured in Chinese red, are among the most celebrated of London furniture of the 18th century and are from the same palatial suite of Lazcano furniture that is represented in major museums, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Fig. 1), Temple Newsam House, Leeds (Fig. 2), the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia and the Museo de las Artes Decorativas in Madrid.

These masterpieces from the Clerkenwell workshops of Giles Grendey (d.1780) were designed en suite with ‘pier-set’ card-tables, mirrors and secretaire-cabinets, probably for the Spanish castle of Lazcano. The Lazcano furnishings, comprising more than seventy-seven items, are the largest recorded suite of 18th century English furniture. Part of the suite was published in 1944, photographed in situ in the late 19th century in the Saloon at Palace of Lazcano (Arteago, loc. cit.) (Fig. 3). This was after the majority of the suite had been acquired in 1930 by the Venice-based dealer Adolph Loewi. The suite comprised at least seventy-seven items, and included some fifty single chairs, twelve armchairs, two day-beds, two pairs of mirrors, a pair of candlestands, a card table, a pair of secretaire-cabinets and a tripod tea table. 


‘We have laid before you an Art very much admired by us, and all those who hold any commerce with the Inhabitants of JAPAN; but that Island not being able to furnish these parts with work of this kind, the English and Frenchmen have endeavoured to imitate them; that by these means the Nobility and Gentry might be completely furnisht with whole Setts of Japan-work, whereas otherwise they were forc’t to content themselves with perhaps a Screen, a Dressing-box, or Drinking-bowl, or some odd thing that had not a fellow to answer it: but now you may be stockt with entire Furniture, Tables, Stands, Boxes and Looking-glass-frames…’

John Stalker and George Palmer, A Treatise on Japanning and Varnishing, 1688.

In 1688, in response to the hysterical demand for all things of Eastern influence and fuelled by the East India companies returning with lacquer from China and Japan John Stalker and George Parker published their Treatise on Japanning and Varnishing. This was to be the beginning of the European fascination and imitation of items from the East, one which continues today but which most certainly influenced arguably the greatest single commission of English furniture in the eighteenth century, The Infantado Suite.

The magnificent Infantado Suite is completely unrivaled and is demonstrative of the pinnacle of English lacquer of the early 18th century. No name is more synonymous with fine decoration of this type than that of Giles Grendey and the furniture produced in his Clerkenwell workshops. These chairs from this very workshop display all the finesse for which Grendey is so renowned, the large scale figures and garden scenes enriched with animals and highlighted with altering gilded tones including silvering are raised in bas-relief, in the style referred to by Parker and Stalker’s influential manual.

The inspiration for the scenes which we see on the cabinets and in other items from the suite relate to illustrated accounts of visits to China in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. These in turn evoked the French Histoire du Roi de la Chine tapestries designed around 1700 in the Beauvais manufactory and subsequently the figurative wallpapers so favoured at this period. With such interest in the orient further publications continued well into the eighteenth such as Jean-Antoine Fraisse’s Livre de Dessins Chinois  of 1735.   

The form of the chairs and their elaborate ornament, represent a whimsical fusion of Roman and Chinese elements that was of the taste in the early Georgian period. Interestingly the shape of the splats and crest-rails, together with the cabriolet legs upon which they stand are all elements normally considered to be more common in walnut forms of the 1720s than pieces of this later date. This may well indicate the taste of the patron and the Spanish sensibilities of the time.

Giles Grendey (b. 1693- d.1780) of Aylesbury House, St. John's Square, Clerkenwell, was described at the time of his wife's death as a 'great dealer in the Cabinet way', and further in 1755 when his daughter married the Royal Cabinetmaker John Cobb as an 'eminent Timber Merchant'. Apprenticed in 1709, Grendey who was born in Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire, became a freeman in 1716, by 1726 taking apprentices into his own employ. After his marriage in 1720 he became a freeman of the City of London and was elected to the Livery of the Joiner's Company in 1729.
A contemporary account of a disastrous fire at his premises on August 3, 1731 was reported in various newspapers including The Daily Courant, The Daily Journal and The Daily Post. In these, Grendey was described as a 'Cabinet-Maker and Chairmaker' whose losses included 'an easy Chair of such rich and curious Workmanship, that he had refus'd 500 Guineas for it, it being intended, 'tis said, to be purchas'd by a Person of Quality who design'd as a Present to a German Prince', together with furniture to
the value of £1,000 which he 'had pack'd for Exportation against the Next Morning'.
Although it is obvious that Grendey's business was considerable, only a small number of
documents exist recording the names of his clients and the extent and nature of their
commissions. These include Richard Hoare of Barn Elms, Surrey whose bill dated 1723 included a chest of drawers, a 'Burow Table', dressing glasses, chimney glasses, and a 'Wrighting Disk', further acquiring in 1732 wall sconces, gold frames for glasses, tables and a chest. In the account book of Henry Hoare dated 1746-1756 various payments are recorded including £46 for chairs and in 1762 Lord Scarsdale of Kedleston Hall acquired '1 Fine Jamai. Mahog. Plank' for £21. His extensive oeuvre is further illustrated by a number of examples which unusually retain his printed trade labels, one of which declares that Grendey 'Makes and Sells all Sorts of Cabinet-Goods, Chairs and Glasses'.
Labeled pieces include cabinets of various forms including clothes presses, chests of drawers, mirrors, drop-leaf tables and chairs. Many of the latter retain the stamped initials of Grendey's workmen, several of which relate to his recorded apprentices allowing further attributions to be made to unlabeled pieces. The largest group of these is found on a suite of scarlet-japanned furniture which was supplied by Grendey to the Duke of Infantado, Lazcano Palace, Spain. Comprising some 77 pieces including this current group of chairs, tables, mirrors, tripod stands, the suite also included several desks and bookcases. Created by the leading English cabinet-maker of furniture for export, the Infantado suite is renowned as one of the most important groups of English furniture of the 18th century.

The suite has been widely published and its pre-eminence is undiminished. R. W. Symonds wrote about a pair of cabinets from the suite in 1935, describing them as typical of the best English cabinet work'. Christopher Gilbert, thirty-six years later wrote of the 'outstanding importance' of the suite. Since then, several pieces from the suite have come onto the market and have entered major public collections around the world. As Simon Jervis notes (Beard and Gilbert, op. cit. p. 372) his work mostly 'falls into three stylistic groups: neat well-made pieces in walnut and mahogany, similar pieces lacquered in scarlet for the Spanish market, and a minority of more elaborate works with idiosyncratic carved decoration and shaped panels'.


The Dukedom of Infantado ('con Grandeza de España') was created on 22 July 1475 by King Ferdinand VII and Queen Isabella, the 'Reyes Católicos', for Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza y Figueroa, 2nd Marqués de Santillana and Conde del Real de Manzanares y Ricohombre de Castilla. One of the grandest families in Spain, the Infantado had a number of important residences, such as the Castillo de Manzanares in Castilla, the Palacio del Infantado in Guadalajara and, from the late 19th century, the Palacio de Lazcano.

The palace of Lazcano, built between 1620 and 1640, is situated in Guipúzcoa, Northern Spain, and is associated with one of the oldest noble titles in Spain: in 1330 the head of the family was created Señor de la Casa de Lazcano con Grandeza de España. In 1697, Don Juan Antonio de Arteaga, Marqués de Valmediano and 18th Señor de Lazcano, inherited the palace and assumed the name Lazcano.

In 1891, on the death of the 15th Duke of Infantado, Don Andrés de Arteaga, a descendant of Don Juan Antonio, inherited the Dukedom, after the King intervened and decreed that the ancient title of Infantado should pass to the Marquessate of Valmediano. It is this inheritance which brought the Dukes of Infantado to Lazcano, and which leads to the suggestion that the original patron was either the then Marqués of Valmediano for Lazcano itself, or to the Duke of Infantado with the suite being brought to Lazcano after 1891. What is known is that much of the suite was recorded in a late 19th century photograph and in 1930, the dealer Adolph Loewi bought seventy-two items. Prior to this, the complex manoeuverings of Spanish noble inheritance have provided an obfuscatory glaze to the earlier history. While it is tempting to assume that the suite was always at Lazcano Castle, it might be deemed an unlikely situation for the grandest, and largest known, suite of English export furniture.

The Infantados, head of the powerful Mendoza family, were perfectly positioned in the early 18th century to embark on the commissioning of an ambitious suite of furniture. The possibility exists that the suite was commissioned in the 1730s by the 10th Duque del Infantado, considered the richest man in Spain at the time, perhaps for his daughter, the future 11th Duquesa, after her marriage in 1724, or on her accession in 1737. The Duquesa was one of the most important heiresses of Europe, with numerous titles and privileges, including the historical Dukedoms of Lerma and Pastrana, besides that of the ancient Dukedom of Infantado. Alternatively, if we assume that the suite is indigenous to the Palace of Lazcano, it may have been commissioned, c. 1740 by Don Juan Raimundo, 3rd Marqués de Valmediano (d.1761).