A George III mahogany and gilt bronze mounted oval Wine Cooler,
By the time of his death in 1771 Samuel Norman, carver and gilder, had achieved one of the ultimate accolades in his field, having been favoured with a royal appointment as 'Master Carver in Wood' to the office of Works in 1762. In 1763 he was described as 'Sculptor and Carver to their Majesties; and surveyor of the curious carvings in Windsor Castle'. Norman had a relatively modest start in his work, as an apprentice carver and gilder to Thomas Woodin from 1746-1753. Following his marriage into the Whittle family, in 1755 James Whittle and Norman became partners in the business Whittle & Norman, an established carving and gilding firm, which ended only with Whittle's death in 1759. Following this Norman went into partnership with Paul Saunders's Royal Tapestry Manufactory in Sutton Street, Soho. This business association helped Norman through a difficult financial period. However, the recognised fine quality of Norman's work ensured continued patronage from the upper echelons in society. Norman worked for such patrons as the Duke of Bedford, Sir Lawrence Dundas, the Earl of Holderness, Sir Herbert Pakinton, as well as being extensively employed at Windsor Castle. However, there is no major work known by Norman after 1766, and he went bankrupt in 1767.
A number of wine coolers similar to the model above are known to exist, all differing slightly, generally on the mounts and legs. A pair of reed-gadrooned cisterns, with Bacchic lion head masks tied by golden ribbons and accompanied by antique fluted stands were comissioned by Sir Lawrence Dundas for the furnishings of Aske Hall, Richmond, Yorkshire. A related wine cooler was sold at Christie's London, 10th July 2003, lot 10.
Wooden wine coolers lined with lead first came into use in about 1730 and Chippendale's Director (1754), shows several designs for such wine coolers. While these items were primarily designed for cooling wine in ice, they occasionally served for the additional purpose of washing plates, cutlery and glasses during a meal.