A large and impressive Victorian carved oak dragon newel post
fourth quarter 19th century Observed on it hind legs facing skyward, its talons clasped round a stylised acanthus leaf, the back inset with a section of banister
Provenance: Probably removed from old Altyre House, Scottish Highlands and thence by descent. Old Altyre House was a mansion house renovated in the late 19th century by the architect John Kinross under the direction of Sir William Gordon Cumming. This property, the 'old' or original Altyre House was demolished in 1962.
It is unusual for a stair terminal to be of free-standing form. The style of the dragon carving demonstrates the influence of the Orient and also informs the dating to the fourth quarter of the 19th century, which coincides with the renovation of Altyre by Kinross. The 1870's and 1880's were a period when Europe, and in particular Britain and France, looked to Japan and China for design inspiration.
John Kinross had close links with several Edinburgh cabinet maker's, namely Whytock & Reid, Scott Morton & Co., Grandison & Sons and Morison & Co. It is tempting to speculate that one of these firms made this newel post. Perhaps out of the four, Whytock and Reid is the most likely, given the firms familiarity and frequent use of Oriental themes in their furniture.