A pair of Regency carved mahogany library bergères in the manner of George Smith
Lot 109
A pair of Regency carved mahogany library bergères in the manner of George Smith
Sold for £110,500 (US$ 187,716) inc. premium
Lot Details
Other Properties
A pair of Regency carved mahogany library bergères in the manner of George Smith
The scrolling top-rails above caned backs and seats with double-caned sides, all four supports in the form of carved leopard monopodiae terminating in paw feet, 55cm wide, 88cm deep, 82cm high (21 1/2in wide, 34 1/2in deep, 32in high). (2)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Possibly commissioned by Frederick Vernon Wentworth (b.1795) for Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire, and then acquired by his granddaughter:
    Frederika Charlotte Louisa Rooke (nee Thelluson, d.1954) and her husband Mortimer Rooke (d.1942) at The Ivy, Chippenham, Wiltshire, thence by family descent.

    Frederika, who owned the chairs until her death in 1954 had been partly brought up at Wentworth Castle with her Uncle Thomas Vernon-Wentworth (1831-1902) and his family following the early death of her mother Henrietta Thelluson in 1873 when Frederika was twelve years old.

    The Design
    The design of this pair of chairs and the following lot (Lot 110) are based on the designs for armchairs by George Smith published in his A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in the Most Approved and Elegant Taste, by George Smith, Upholder Extraordinary To His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, published by J.Taylor, At the Architectural Library, No.59, High Holborn, 1808, pl.56. The monopodia reflect the 'antique' taste prevalent in England at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries and encouraged by Charles Heathcote Tatham's Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture drawn from the originals in Rome...1794-6, published in 1801. Although little is known about George Smith's professional career, he remains a well known name through his A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration of 1808 and his Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide (1826). He is thought to have been a practising craftsmen and claimed, without known documentation, to be an upholsterer to the Prince of Wales and Smith's Household Furniture certainly has a very strong emphasis on upholstery and interior detailing. Smith made extensive use of the forms of classical furniture and his Household Furniture along with Tatham's Etchings... (1810) and Thomas Hope's, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration(1807)all helped to maintain the fashion for classical furniture. Smith in particular makes extensive use of animal monopodiae on pieces ranging from tables and sideboards to chairs and sofas.

    Chairs utilising monopodia for both front and back supports, as in George Smith's published design are rare most likely as a result of the expense involved in manufacture. The best known examples employing this design are the set of ten that were probably made for Philip John Miles for the Thomas Hopper designed Leigh Court in Bristol which was built in the Greek Ionic style. The set was later moved to John William Miles at Forde Abbey, Dorset (see Country Life, 10 July 1909, pp.55-56). Four armchairs thought to be part of the Leigh Court suite are now in the collection of the Royal Pavillion, Brighton. The chair of this pattern in the collection of the V&A Museum, London (W.14-1945) which was gifted to the museum by Edward Knoblock is also thought to have originated from Leigh Court.

    Other related pairs of Regency bergères utilising leopard monopodia supports to the front include a pair of library bergères formerly at Jenkin Place, Hampshire and sold Christie's, London, 30 November 2000, lot 70 and a pair of tub shaped bergères sold from the collection of Mr and Mrs Stephen C. Hilbert, Sotheby's New York, 24 May 2007, lot 63. Monopodiae are used with similar effect on the Regency giltwood daybed by Gillows supplied to Colonel Hughes of Kinmel Park, Denbighshire in 1807 as part of a large suite of seat furniture The daybed was subsequently sold at Christie's contents sale of Sheringham Hall, Norfolk, 22-23 October 1986, lot 151 and later from the collection of Mr Edward Sarofin, Christie's, London, 16 November 1995, lot 143. The daybed is illustrated in P.MacQuoid and R.Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, Rev.ed., London, 1954, p.145, fig.24. Front legs in the form of leopard monopodia appear on the seat furniture supplied to the Earls of Caledon for Caledon , Co. Tyrone and is illustrated in C.Musgrave, Regency Furniture, London, 1961, fig. 41A.

    Wentworth Castle
    Thomas Wentworth, Baron Raby, had been expecting to inherit the great Wentworth Woodhouse estate from the 2nd Earl of Stafford in 1695 when the estate passed to his cousin Thomas Watson when the 2nd Earl died childless. The passing of Wentworth Woodhouse to the Watsons caused intense rivalry with the Watson's and Thomas Wentworth was determined to surpass the Watsons in splendour of living. Wentworth was a distinguished soldier and diplomat under both William III and Queen Anne with aspirations to establish a claim to the title of Earl of Stafford. When an opportunity to purchase the Stainborough Hall estate, some six miles from Wentworth Woodhouse arose in 1708, Wentworth realised having a country estate would be vital in pursuing his claim to the Earldom and he did indeed succeed with Queen Anne creating him 1st Earl of Stafford (2nd creation) in 1711.

    Wentworth added a new baroque wing (1709-1715), with designs provided by the military architect Jonann Von Bodt. Wentworth amassed a picture collection in Italy and James Gibbs designed the remarkably picture gallery in 1724 which stretched some one hundred and eighty feet. Nikolaus Pevsner describes the east range "of a palatial splendour uncommon in England". Originally known as Stainborough Castle, Wentworth changed the name to Wentworth Castle on its completion in 1731. In the late 1730's Thomas Wentworth's son William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (1722-1791) commissioned Capability Brown to lay out the gardens and created the south facing Palladian wing of the house which was largely his own creation The Stafford title once again became extinct with the death of the 3rd Earl in 1799. The estate passed to the 3rd Earls sister Augusta Wentworth (Mrs Hatfield Kaye) and then to Frederick Vernon-Wentworth in 1802.

    The Vernon-Wentworth family added the west wing in the 19th century. The house was sold in 1949 by Captain Bruce Vernon-Wentworth to the Barnsley Corporation. Captain Vernon-Wentworth sold part of the contents of Wentworth Castle at Christie's, 20 November 1919.
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