T he Classic Design auction offers the finest examples of European furniture, clocks, silver, ceramics and objects of vertu. This autumn, Sotheby’s has partnered with Martina Mondadori, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Cabana Magazine, who finds inspiration through art, fashion and travel and explores the intimate relationships each of us hold with the interiors we inhabit. Mondadori’s commitment to the conservation of craft traditions defines the mission of Casa Cabana, a line of homewares and furnishings which preserves the skills of a global network of artisans. Her exclusive wallpapers by Schumacher are beautiful decorative statements that will enhance our exhibition spaces, and you are invited to view property for sale in this rich, new context.
The Grandeur of William Kent
These chairs are typical of the bold, architectural designs of William Kent (c.1685–1748), the creative genius of the early Georgian era who championed the Palladian style. The chairs can be traced back to the suite of hall furniture created for Sherborne House and its hunting lodge, Lodge Park, in Gloucestershire. The Dutton archives reveal the chairs were carved by James Richards (1721–1767) with James Moore the Younger, almost certainly to a design by Kent.
- Architecture in Design
The proportions of the uprights mirror those of a classical column, will recesses in the fluted frieze echo in miniature the sculptural niches found in the exterior of classical temples. The volute-formed legs are also typical of Kent’s output.
- Sherborne House and the Dutton Family
Sherborne House was purchased for the Duttons in the 1550s and welcomed Queen Elizabeth I for two state visits in 1574 and 1592. During the seventeenth century, the estate was expanded to include a hunting and banqueting lodge. There have been various tranches of renovation at the house, most relevantly in this case the one carried out in Sir John Dutton, 2nd Bt in the 1720s and 1730s.
These chairs were commissioned as part of a matching suite, which comprised of two additional settees and a set of four stools supplied for Lodge Park.
- The Later History of the Suite
Much of the furniture at Sherborne house was dispersed in 1940, while the house was requisitioned by the army during the war. The chairs, stools and settees of this suite were all sold to a London dealer named Leonard Knight. In 1943, the settees were acquired by Temple Newsam, and were included in the catalogue of the collection published in 1978. The chairs and stools in the suite were bought for Ditchley Park, but when its owner Lord Wilton moved residence in the 1950s, the group was again divided, with two of the stools going to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (accession number 999.34.1). The other two stools were first sold to Benjamin Sonnenberg, and after appearing twice at auction were most recently offered Christie’s London, 7 July 2022, lot 11.
The present pair of chairs have belonged to the consignor since at least 1969, when Christopher Gilbert published an article on this Sherborne suite, and another pair have been offered at Christie’s New York twice, selling post-sale on the 17th October 2008. The whereabouts of the other chairs in the suite are currently unknown.