A George I walnut cross banded and featherbanded bureau cabinet circa 1720
Lot 10
A George I walnut cross banded and featherbanded bureau cabinet circa 1720
Sold for £18,750 (US$ 31,496) inc. premium
Lot Details
A George I walnut crossbanded and featherbanded bureau cabinet
The serpentine ogee moulded cornice with three turned finials above a panelled lozenge painted with the cypher of George I, above a pair of arched moulded panelled doors enclosing a central arcaded door surrounded by nine pigeonholes, eight short drawers and two shelves, above a pair of candleslides, the lower part with a sloping fall enclosing a later lined fall, four pigeonholes and eleven short drawers, above two shorts and two long graduated drawers on bracket feet, with castors, with a later framed typed inscription to the underside of one shelf of the fitted interior, "This 'Queen Anne' Bureau Cabinet originally formed part of the furnishings of Hampton Court Palace, from where it was removed, in all probability, by the Duchess of Kendal, to come into private ownership on the dispersal of her establishment.
The Royal monogram of GEORGE I., interlaced and reversed in gold on a red ground, is seen under glass in the small panel in the centre of the pediment. The attached stamp with similar monogram in from a parchment deed dated 1717. The cabinet was purchased about 1860 by George Hausman Thomas, who at this time was painter of state pictures to Queen Victoria. It later passed to his eldest daughter, the wife of Joseph Nash, R.I."
, 98cm wide, 62cm deep, 257cm high (38.5" wide, 24" deep, 101" high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Traditionally believed to formed part of the furnishing of Hampton Court Palace.
    Acquired by the artist George Housman Thomas (1824-1868) around 1860 and thence by descent to his daughter:
    Ellen Nash (nee Thomas) born 1851, who was married to the artist Joseph Nash jr (1835-1922), the son of the Joseph Nash, the watercolour painter and lithographer who specialised in historical buildings and produced the four volume Mansions of England in the Olden Time, (1839/40). Ellen died at The White House, Somerleyton in 1936 and thence by descent at The White House until sold:
    The contents sale of The White House, Somerleyton by Spelmans of Norwich, 27th-28th September 1945, lot 105 (illustrated).

    The typed provenance note framed and attached to the underside of one of the interior shelves states the cabinet was probably removed from Hampton Court by The Duchess of Kendal. The Duchess of Kendal was born Melusine von der Schulenburg (1667-1743) and was the long standing mistress of George I. Melusine's relationship with George I began while he was Elector of Hanover and she moved to England with him in 1716. She was created Duchess of Kendal in 1719 and her position was virtually one of queen, in fact Robert Walpole described her as 'As much the queen of England as anyone' as such she maintained apartments at both Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace. Following the death of George I in 1727 she resided at Kendal House in Isleworth. While the above bureau cabinet may not seem in keeping with 'Royal' furniture commissions of the period it could possibly have formed part of a commission to furnish Kendal House after the death of the King. After the Duchess's death in 1743, Kendal House became a place of public entertainment serving as 'Breakfast House'. An advert in the Daily Advertiser of 4 April 1750 described it as

    'Kendal House, Isleworth, near Brentford, Middlesex, eight miles from London, will open for breakfast on Monday. The room for dancing is 60 feet long, and all the other rooms elegantly fitted up. The orchestra is allowed to be in the genteelest taste, being housed in an octagon in the Corinthian order. Ladies and gentlemen may divert themselves with fishing, the canal being well stocked with tench, carp and all sorts of fish; near are two wildernesses, with delightful rural walks, and through the garden runs a rapid river, shaded with a pleasant grove of trees, so designed by nature that in the hottest day of summer you are secured from the heat of the sun. Great care will be taken to keep out all disorderly people. There is a man cook and a good larder; all things are as cheap or cheaper than at any place of the kind.'

    The fate of Kendall House is not well documented and very little is known about its interiors. The contents would presumably have been dispersed, the bulk of the Duchesses estate passing to her daughter (by George I) Petronella who had married Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. The artist George Housman Thomas who was later to acquire this bookcase did notably live within a few miles of Isleworth at Kingston-upon-Thames.

    The above cabinet does demonstrate some of the characteristics of the London cabinet-maker Peter Miller (d.1729) in particular the drawer construction although Miller seems to have used five dovetails as opposed to the four seen on the drawers of this cabinet. Closely related carrying handles (although here with the addition on engraved decoration) appear on the cabinet formerly with Jeremy Ltd and inscribed 'Peter Miller Cabenet Maker in the Savoy in London 13 June Ao 1724' and on the bureau cabinet attributed to Miller sold Christie's New York, 18-19 April 2012, lot 217. The simulated veneered arch to the interior cupboard door mirrors the end panels of the large combination desk and bookcase attributed to Miller which was sold Bonhams London, 19 October 2011, lot 20. The Bonhams desk/bookcase also had a similar treatment of the lopers coming from within a banded veneered panel incorporating the drawer front. The lack of original locks, the use of some deal rather than high quality wainscot throughout and the presence of the moulding to the edge of the fall (rather than being applied to the carcass) would at this stage seem to rule out an attribution to Miller but brings to light some interesting comparisons with his workshop practices and those of other cabinet-makers.
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