A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows
Lot 169
A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas
attributed to Gillows
Sold for £ 16,800 (US$ 22,322) inc. premium

Lot Details
A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas attributed to Gillows
A pair of William IV rococo revival carved giltwood sofas
attributed to Gillows
The serpentine scrolling leaf carved toprails centred by shell crestings above padded backs, with outswept scrolling padded arms and double serpentine padded seats, with leaf and shell carved undulating seatrails on cabriole moulded legs and scroll feet, with recessed castors, one with a rail signed Ths Hatton, the other indistinctly signed, one with clamp marks, both with batten carrying holes, each 232cm wide, 76cm deep, 106cm high, (91" wide, 29.5" deep, 41.5" high). (2)


  • Provenance: The Soane Drawing Room, Aynhoe Park, Northamptonshire, probably commissioned by William Ralph Cartwright (1771-1847)and thence by descent.
    In 1906 the sofas moved to the British Embassy in Vienna with Fairfax Leighton Cartwright (1857-1928), The British Ambassador in Vienna (1906-1913). Fairfax married his second wife Donna Maria dei Marchesi Chigi-Zondadari, daughter of the Italian senator in 1898. Together they turned the British Embassy in Vienna from an undistinguished one into a highly fashionable one.

    The sofas returned to Aynhoe in 1913 until in 1960 they moved again with the current owner's mother and step-father to the Georgian mansion of Shardeloes, Amersham, Bucks, along with other furniture from Aynhoe. Shardeloes was built for William Drake M.P. between 1758 and 1766 and was converted into flats and houses in the 1970's. Shardeloes had been described by the statesman Edmund Burke (1729–1797), as a "perfect specimen of elegant English residence". When the current owner's widowed mother moved out, the sofas remained at Shardeloes with the actors Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray, where they were on loan and remained until the present day.

    Aynhoe Park, is a 17th-century country house on the southern edge of Aynho. The Aynhoe estate was purchased in the 17th century by John Cartwright but the house he built in 1615 was seriously damaged during the Civil War by Royalist forces following the Battle of Naseby. Rebuilt after the Civil War to the design of Edward Marshall, master mason in Charles II's Office of Works, in 1707 Thomas Cartwright employed Thomas Archer to enlarge the Jacobean building.

    In the early 19th century the house was embellished by Sir John Soane. Soane was instructed to prepare designs for a thorough remodelling of the interior in 1795—the drawings for this work can be seen in the Sir John Soane's Museum in London. Unfortunately, these interiors were never built. However, Soane did redesign the reception rooms along the garden front in a modest style in 1800–5 and, with the exception of the French Drawing Room and these interiors have survived. The surroundings represent an early formal garden with landscape park. Gardens were laid out by Mr Guilliam 1701–14, and the park laid out 1760–63 by Capability Brown.

    It is likely that these sofas were purchased from Gillows by William Ralph Cartwright, the Tory politician. He eventually ran up huge debts, mainly from playing the stock market badly. Cartwright married the Hon. Emma Mary Maude daughter of Viscount Hawarden on 12 April 1794. They had children Thomas who became a diplomat and William who became a Lieutenant General. These had respectively sons William Cornwallis Cartwright and Fairfax Cartwright who were both MPs. Thomas Cartwright married Marie Elizabeth Augusta Von Sandizell (Lili), daughter of Count De Von Sandizell of Bavaria. It is her watercolour drawings of Aynhoe from the mid 1840's which offer a clear and delightful insight into the interior furniture and furnishings at that time, these were published by Mrs Elizabeth Cartwright-Hignett in 1989 under the title 'Lili at Aynhoe'. Sadly the above sofas do not feature in any of the drawings.

    The Cartwright family lived at Aynhoe Park until 1954, when the house was acquired by the County Houses Association until they went into liquidation in 2003, it was remodelled in 2004 by the current owner.

    Although there are no surviving records of Gillows working at Aynhoe, it can be assumed that they did supply a number of items (see lots.....). See also Christies, London 16 September 2004, lot 88 which is a George III chest of drawers noted as probably supplied to William Ralph Cartwright for Aynhoe and purchased from Collins and Clark, 25 March 1961.

    Gillows and giltwood rococo revival seat furniture
    Between 1813-40 Gillow and Co.of Oxford Street began to design and make richly carved giltwood seat furniture. The scrolled arms, cabriole legs, curvaceous seat and top rails with acanthus leaves and rockwork in the neo-baroque and neo-rococo style were unusual for Gillow and Co. However, in October 1833 the 5th Earl Fitzwilliam (d. 1857) paid Gillow and Co. for the gilded neo-baroque suite of drawing room furniture purchased for the Whistlejacket Room, Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire (p. 225, Stuart, S., Gillows of Lancaster and London, Vol II, Antique Collectors' Club, 2008). This elaborate and extensive suite was sold Christies, London 26th June 1986, lot 43, originally comprising of twelve armchairs (bearing numerous signatures, 'Smith', 'Colbrand', 'Schofield' and 'Lees'), a pair of settees (sold again Christies, New York, 9th April 2003, lot 50, one signed Baynes and Rothwell, dated 1832), firescreens, tables and torcheres.

    Several elaborate neo-rococo sofas by Gillows have been on the market in recent years including a pair sold Dreweatt Neate, 5th April 2000, lot 179, originally purchased by Princess Irene Wiszniewska of Poland from the London shop whilst living in Ennismore Gardens, London, along with the matching stool. These are apparently identical to a pair of giltwood sofas in the Red Drawing Room at Tatton Park, Cheshire, (see N.Goodison & J.Hardy, Gillows at Tatton Park, Furniture History, 1970, pp.1-39, both pairs of sofas having similar clamp marks, batten carrying holes and Roman numerals to the leg and seat rail joints. Many of these attributes can be seen on the pair of sofas offered here. (See illustrations in Susan Stuart's book, Vol I plate 214 and Vol II, p.367- plate GG9).

    A similar pair of open armchairs are now in the V&A (purchased Christies, London, 27 June 1985, lot 85), which were probably part of the same suite that sold Christies, London, 7 July 1994, lot 56 and were almost certainly supplied to Frederick William Hervey, 1st Marquess of Bristol (d.1859), of Ickworth Park, Suffolk. Another chair from Sheringham Hall, Norfolk, was sold Christies, London, 18th November 1993, lot 46 and previously sold by the late H.T.S. Upcher, Esq., of Sheringham at the Christies house sale, 22-23 October 1983, lot 73.

    Whilst apparently no examples of giltwood furniture drawings by Gillows still exist in the archives held at Westminster City Archives, a similar rococo style sofa executed in rosewood for George Wilson Esq is illustrated in the Gillows Estimate Sketch Book 1825-1830 no. 3622. An armchair in carved oak in similar style, by John Lawson for Gillows of Lancaster can now be found in the Judges' Lodgings Museum at Lancaster (Ibid, Vol.I, plate 222). This example was thought to have been part of a suite supplied to the Greene family of Whittington Hall, Lancashire and appears to be a more restrained example compared to the giltwood suites previously mentioned.

    Designs for various related chairs feature in room plans of the period executed by Gillows of Lancaster (now in the Picture Library at the V&A). A similar sofa appears in the room plan for Lord Manvers' Front Drawing Room in Portman Square in 1826.

    Thomas Hatton
    The rail of one sofa is signed 'Ths Hatton', and there was a Thomas Hatton working as an upholsterer for Gillows in 1788 when he worked on the interiors at Workington Hall. The commission for John Christian of Workington Hall was one of the most important for the firm at that date. He is also recorded in the Estimate Sketch Books in the early 1790s (344/95, f. 678, 754). However this Thomas Hatton may have died before 1801 since Gillows attempted to reclaim the money they had paid out to 'widow Hatton' and her family from the Overseers of the Poor at Liverpool (344/174, p.40, 28.4.1801). Despite this, there is a Thomas Hatton recorded in the Estimate Sketch Books in 1803, and perhaps this was an apprentice in the same family, who could have been involved in the production of the sofas offered here alongside another workman whose name has yet to be deciphered.
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  1. Fine Furniture (UK)
    Auction administration - English Furniture and Works of Art
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