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Property from a New York Private Collection

A Rare Set of Twelve George II Burr Walnut Side Chairs, Attributed to Giles Grendey, Second Quarter 18th Century

Lot Closed

October 17, 06:00 PM GMT


120,000 - 180,000 USD

Lot Details


A Rare Set of Twelve George II Burr Walnut Side Chairs, Attributed to Giles Grendey, Second Quarter 18th Century

Each with an arched top rail above a vase-shaped splat between shaped uprights, all veneered in well-figured timber, and the drop-in bow-fronted seat raised on cabriole legs carved at the knees with shells, and ending in claw-and-ball feet.

one stamped WF on outside back seat rail and one stamped RW inside back seat rail; five bearing labels Frank Partridge Works of Art 26 King St St James's and New York

height 39 1/2 in.; width 22 in.; depth 20 1/2 in.

100.3 cm; 56 cm; 52 cm

Frank Partridge, London and New York, before 1943

Van der Straeten Gallery, 981 Madison Avenue, New York 1971

This rare survival of a set of twelve can be attributed to Giles Grendey (1693-1780), one of the most preeminent cabinetmakers working in London during the first half of the Georgian period. Stylistically they are closely related to a large suite of chairs and armchairs, some bearing Grendey's paper label on the back seat rail, formerly with the Copley (later Bewicke-Copley) family of Sprotborough Hall, Yorkshire, where three chairs and two armchairs were recorded in 1922, a few years before the house's demolition. The two sets share identical legs with shell carved knees terminating in claw and ball feet, and the Sprotborough set having more elaborately decorated backs with shell and acanthus carving on the splat and crest rail. One armchair and three side chairs from the group were in the collection of the New York banker J.S. Phipps (1874-1958) at Old Westbury, Long Island, sold Sotheby's New York, 21 November 1981, lots 233-35. The three side chairs are now divided among the Art Institute of Chicago (1983.718), the Carneigie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (83.38) and the Crab Tree Farm Collections, Lake Bluff, Illinois (chair #29). Another chair of this model is at Temple Newsam House, Leeds (illustrated in Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture, Woodbridge 2009, p.178 plate 4:67, and a further example formerly with Frank Partridge is illustrated in R. Edwards (ed.), The Dictionary of English Furniture, London 1954, Vol I, p. 257, fig.95.

A pair of armchairs identical to the offered lot with its simpler carving, previously part of a set of six from a private collection in Huntingdonshire, Wales, and with Mallett, London in 1961, was sold Bonham's London, 12 March 2014, lot 59 (£25,000). Grendey's workshop is the likely author of several other recorded variants of the model supplied to important patrons, notably a set of eight walnut side chairs with identical backs to the Sprotborough Hall chairs but square upholstered rather than compass-form seats with a richly carved presentation seat rail, supplied to the Douglas-Pennant family at Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd, Wales, sold Sotheby's London, 5 July 2022, lot 11 (£151,200). A single burr walnut armchair also incorporating a square covered seat centred by a shell but with identical legs and back to the present suite was formerly in the important furniture collection of the Duke of Leeds at Hornby Castle, Yorkshire (illustrated in Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture,, fig.85).

Born in Wotton-under–Edge in Gloucestershire, Grendey was in London by 1709, when he was recorded as an apprentice to the joiner William Sherborne. His first workshop was at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, moving to premises in St. John's Square, Clerkenwell, in 1722, where he would remain for the rest of his working life. In addition to his furniture making activities Grendey was also an important timber merchant, and on the occasion of his wife's death in 1740 was described in a press notice as ‘a great Dealer in the Cabinet Way’. His businesses and professional reputation continued to flourish through the third quarter of the 18th century, his daughter marrying the cabinetmaker John Cobb in 1755, and Grendey himself becoming Master of the Joiners' Company in 1766. Grendey also distniguished himself among his peers by developing a significant client base abroad. Evidence for this is revealed in newspaper accounts of a disastrous fire in his workshop in 1731, which destroyed £1,000 worth of stock described as 'pack'd for Exportation against the next Morning". Much of his export production was lacquered or 'japanned' work, most significantly the extensive suite of scarlet japanned furniture supplied to the Dukes of Infantado at Lazcano Castle in the Basque country of Northern Spain, comprising at least seventy-seven items of tables, chairs, mirrors and secretaire cabinets. This group is today regarded as one of the most iconic examples of English furniture created in the 18th century, works from which are represented in major private and public collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, and Temple Newsam.