A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell the design possibly by John Linnell
Lot 231
A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell
the design possibly by John Linnell
Sold for £218,500 (US$ 339,459) inc. premium

Lot Details
A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell the design possibly by John Linnell A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell the design possibly by John Linnell A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell the design possibly by John Linnell A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell the design possibly by John Linnell A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell the design possibly by John Linnell
Fine English Furniture, Sculpture & Works of Art
A George II carved pine side table attributed to William Linnell
the design possibly by John Linnell
The rectangular Medicis breccia marble top above a leaf carved ogee moulding and Greek key and paterae carved frieze and riband and paterae moulding, centred by a lion mask above 'C' scrolls, leaves and flowers on cabriole moulded 'C' scroll carved legs hung with floral swags, on hairy lion paw feet, with inventory number inside the back rail, 'S/193', with signs of previous decorative schemes, 180cm wide, 81cm deep, 85cm high (70 1/2in wide, 31 1/2in deep, 33in high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Lt-Gen Sir John Saunders Sebright, 6th Baronet, (1725-1794) and thence by descent at Beechwood Park, Flamstead, Hertfordshire


    The attribution to William Linnell
    Elements of the design of the table offered here correspond closely to the John Linnell pen and ink design for a side table which forms part of the collection of designs that were bequeathed by Linnell to Thomas Tatham(1762-1818) who it appears passed it on to his brother C.H Tatham(1772-1842) who titled them 'a miscellaneous collection of original designs, made and for the most part executed during an extensive practice of many years in the first line of his profession, by John Linnell, upholsterer, carver and cabinet maker. Selected from his portfolios at his decease by C.H Tatham, architect A.D 1800'. The drawings eventually passed to Tatham's daughter Julia, the wife of the artist George Richmond. The V&A design for a sidetable employs the same hairy foot and lion's mask utilised on the lot offered here. The carved detailing reflects the early carving style of William Linnell seen in the carved 'twisted ribbon and flower' and the 'raffle and leaf' details for the mouldings at the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford and illustrated in H.Hayward and P.Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London 1980, p.18-19, pl.30 & 32. The original setting for the Beechwood table is not known as it does not appear in the 1938 photographs taken for Country Life and may well have already been moved to Cheverells, the Sebright Dower house where the family were living by the end of the 19th century. If indeed it formed part of the 1750's scheme for the drawing room or dining room then it may well have been supplied by Linnell working under the direction of Sir William Chambers who was re-designed the dining room and drawing room during the 1750s and may serve to explain the Kentian elements of the table (a style favoured by Chambers) which are combined with a more contemporary rococo style.

    William Linnell – A Newly Established Link to Flamstead and Beechwood Park.
    The Sebright family are previously known to have been patrons of the cabinet-maker William Linnell through their multiple appearances on the 1763 Abstract of Debts (Public Record Office C107/69) compiled on William's death. Amongst Williams debtors are Sir Thomas Sebright, 5th Bart who died in 1761 ( £26 10s 4d) . Sir Thomas Sebright's brother Sir John Sebright, 6th Bart also appears on the list (£3 10s 0) and also Lady Sebright (7s 0d).

    While Pat Kirkham records William Linnell as being born in 1703 in Hemel Hempstead, the son of yeoman John Linnell, it would appear that William is likely to have been baptized in 1703 but was born in 1702 in Flamstead. Most significantly it would appear that by this date William's father John Linnell snr, a yeoman farmer, was already the lessee of Beechwood Farm on the Beechwood Park Estate. Extant copies of leases in Hertford Records Office show him as a co-lessee as early as 1694 when an agreement between Ellen Saunders, widow of Thomas Saunders esq and John Linnell of St Michael's for a lease to Beechwood Farmhouse and land in Flamstead was granted (Hertford Records Office DE/FL/17652 18 Dec 1694). There are three further extant leases to John Linnell snr of Beechwood Farm dating to July 1698, Dec 1714 and July 1720. It may well be that his tenancy went on past this date as his death was recorded in Flamstead in 1754. This may well indicate that William Linnell was raised on the Beechwood Park estate. On establishing himself as a carver and later a cabinet-maker in London he would have been well appointed to secure work at Beechwood Park and from the Sebright family with whom he seems likely to have been acquainted from childhood.

    The Sebrights and William Linnell -A newly identified Estimate and Invoice
    Fresh research into the furnishing of Beechwood Park has uncovered previously unrecorded correspondence from William Linnell. Most notably these include a 1744 estimate for Lady Sebright and an invoice from 1750 (Hertford Records Office Ref/Acc 5333) placing the Sebrights amongst his earliest and most long-standing clients. The family presence on the 1763 list of debtors compiled on William's death document a professional relationship lasting nearly twenty years.

    William and John Linnell
    William Linnell was apprenticed as a joiner in 1717 and was admitted to the freedom of the Joiners Company on 3 June 1729. Linnell began his career as a carver but by the 1760s he had developed the business sufficiently to cover all areas of cabinet-making. The 1763 valuation of William Linnell's household good and stock-in-trade show a specialist room for carving and gilding. Pat Kirkham notes in her 1967 article for Furniture History that this highlights an interesting contrast between the Linnell workshop and that of Thomas Chippendale junior who according to the plan of their workshop from 1803 where they have a specialist room for veneering thus highlighting the differing focus of the two firms. Linnell's position amongst the London cabinet-makers may therefore have been established by retaining their early carving and gilding specialism. After William's death in 1763, the valuation of household good and stock in trade amounted to £1603, 0s 6½d comparing favourably to that of Thomas Chippendale which after the death of James Rannie in 1766 was valued at £1,900 indicating that William Linnell left a business in good shape that was certainly amongst the most prominent in London. John Linnell's apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker was unusual; in addition to training with his father William's firm on Long Acre he also attended Hogarth's St Martin's Lane Academy where he studies drawing and design in an international, intellectual environment. John Linnell's artistic talent had an immediate impact upon the firm, being an artist by both training and inclination. Linnell joined his father full time in 1753, specialising in rococo design. Linnell's talent combined with his St Martin's Lane connections meant that, far in advance of most cabinet-makers, he was aware of Delafosse and was experimenting with neo-classicism by 1760. His designs from this period show that Linnell was experimenting with the new style and the results were both novel and eclectic as he cast about for new combinations of form and ornament. While running the design side of the firm John Linnell would have come into contact with many of the most prominent architects of the period. Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, who was also engaged by Sir Thomas Saunders Sebright at Beechwood Park, was entrusted by Lord Coventry to re-build Croome Court and entrusted the task of designing chimney pieces and overmantels to John Linnell demonstrating how architects would sometimes entrust the design of these elements to the specialist craftspeople that they engaged. By 1762 Linnell was working with Robert Adam at Kedleston Hall, followed by Osterley Park in 1767. Through his direct contact with Adam, the eclectic designs of Linnell were gradually replaced with an increasingly refined, pure neo-classicism that was fully established by 1775.
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