A rare second half 16th century South German fruitwood, sycamore, burr ash and green-stained marquetry panel  Augsburg
Lot 12
A rare second half 16th century South German fruitwood, sycamore, burr ash and green-stained marquetry panel Augsburg
Sold for £17,500 (US$ 28,341) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rare second half of the 16th century South German fruitwood, sycamore, burr ash and green-stained marquetry panel  Augsburg A rare second half of the 16th century South German fruitwood, sycamore, burr ash and green-stained marquetry panel  Augsburg A rare second half of the 16th century South German fruitwood, sycamore, burr ash and green-stained marquetry panel  Augsburg
A rare second half 16th century South German fruitwood, sycamore, burr ash and green-stained marquetry panel
Augsburg
of rectangular form, profusely inlaid with scrolling architectural strapwork, birds, and green-stained foliage and flowers, all centred by an armillary sphere within a strapwork cartouche of far-distant buildings rendered with perspective, the cardinal points each embellished with a roundel inlaid with a horse carrying a sphere upon its back, two of the sphere's topped by what is possibly an astronomical lens, the table's four corners with a further roundel, the two on the right depicting a woman riding a horse in a river, an owl at her shoulder, possibly Cloelia, the two on the left of Leda and the Swan, the roundels to the bottom corners both surmounted by the mask of a long-haired man, and with cherub spandrels, the whole within a slender ribbon-entwined floral border, now on a late 18th century olivewood and fruitwood table base with a drawer, on tapered square legs, inlaid throughout with chequer-bandings, 102cm wide, 67cm deep, 75cm high (40" wide, 26" deep, 29.5" high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:

    By descent to George Frederick Osbaldeston Montagu (b. 1909) of High Melton Hall, near Doncaster, Yorkshire, and thence by descent to the present owner.

    High Melton Hall, with a central Medieval tower, was extended in the late 1750s by the renowned architect James Paine (1717 - 1789), whose other commissions included Nostell Priory and Chatsworth. In the 18th century, the Hall and its Estate were in the property of the Fountayne family, one of whom - John (1714 - 1802) - was the Dean of York. Richard Fountayne Wilson Esq. (1783 - 1847), MP for the County of York, by his will (dated 8 April 1842) devised Melton and the residue of his estate to his eldest surviving son Andrew (1815 - 1895), who had taken the surname of Montagu in 1826. His other estates included Ingmanthorpe Hall in Yorkshire and Papplewick Hall in Nottinghamshire. He was styled Andrew Montagu, Lord of the Manor of High Melton, Ingmanthorpe and Wighill.

    In 1926, Melton and Barnburgh Halls were purchased from Captain Frederick James Osbaldeston Montagu (1878 - 1957) through private treaty by Messrs GW Meanley & Sons, Mexborough builders and contractors. High Melton Hall was converted into a teacher training college, a new residential block being built in the grounds, and is now part of Doncaster College.

    The attribution:

    The attribution of this panel to the middle/late 16th century is based upon its similarity to the magnificent table-top depicting scenes from the life and reign of Charles V, believed to have been commissioned between 1556 and 1560, and which was sold by Christie's, 5th July 2012, Lot 7 (£265,250).

    Proportionally squarer than the panel offered here, and with an additional eight pictorial reserves based on the 1556 engravings of Maarten van Heemskerck's depictions of The Victories of Emperor Charles V, there are nonetheless striking similarities in the use of scrolling strapwork, foliage and flowers, but most notably in terms of composition, and iconography and motifs. Both tables have a scroll-edged roundel or medallion to each corner, and both have a similarly conceived slender outer border.

    Most notably, however, both panels feature four horses carrying spheres, also based on engravings after van Heemskerck. Published in 1550 and entitled The Unrestrained World, the designs were initially conceived with the stallion accompanied by allegorical figures and represented, 'The World Disposing of Justice', 'Foolish Knowledge and Foolish Love trying to restrain the World', 'The World carrying away Knowledge and Love' and finally 'The World perishing together with Knowledge and Love'.

    Both also feature an armillary sphere (Augsburg was one of the main 16th century centres of their production) and indeed to the present lot it is the central motif around which everything else is composed.

    These similarities link this panel to two of the most celebrated mid-16th century Augsburg productions: the 'Wrangelschrank' at the Westphalian Museum in Münster and the spectacular cabinet sold from a Milanese collection at Christie's, London, 5 November 2009, Lot 259 (£1,127,650), which is now in the collections of the Prince of Liechtenstein, both of which have been attributed to Lienhart Stromair, the most proficient and celebrated Augsburg ébéniste of his time.

    It is interesting to note that the second of these cabinets, which shares the same architectural strapwork scrolls, also features a variety of perching birds in the same manner as the present lot, as does the 'Wrangelschrank', which is also inlaid to the inside of its left door with an armillary sphere.

    Notably different is the presence of the two mythological figures of Leda and Cloelia (or possibly, given the presence of the owl) Athena. Cloelia was the daughter of a patrician Roman family who was given as a hostage to Lars Porsena, an Etruscan king. Cloelia escaped by crossing the Tiber on horseback and was restored to freedom. The collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna includes a carved roundel of Cloelia, produced in Augsburg in 1537.

    All of these cabinets were a product of the extraordinary ascendancy of Augsburg as a centre of furniture production for the international market from the mid-16th century. In particular, the development of marquetry contributed to this prominent position, favoured by the ready availability of a large variety of indigenous woods and the invention of improved types of saws and other equipment. Augsburg marquetry of the time almost invariably depicts ruins, which are largely base of Lorenz Stöer's perspective views of ruins combined with strapwork - Geometria et Perspektiva - which was published in this city in 1567; particularly influential was his 'den Schreiner in eingelegter Arbeit dienstlich'.

    The enduring popularity of 16th century marquetry of this kind meant that it was frequently adapted to new uses, as appears to have happened in the case of the present lot.
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