A late 18th century German/Austrian mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell parquetry Travelling Dressing/Work Table the composite fitments predominantly early 19th century

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Lot 94Y
A late 18th century German/Austrian mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell parquetry Travelling Dressing/Work Table
the composite fitments predominantly early 19th century

Sold for £ 9,600 (US$ 11,969) inc. premium
Fine English Furniture & Works of Art
A late 18th century German/Austrian mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell parquetry Travelling Dressing/Work Table
the composite fitments predominantly early 19th century
the square hinged top with gilt brass moulded edge, with central ivory and tortoiseshell inlaid chequerboard with radiating veneers, enclosing a mirrored lid with square silk pad, the fitted velvet interior comprising of various English and continental sewing and toiletry items amongst them a silver dessert knife and fork with mother of pearl handles, an ivory notebook with pencil containing dance cards, a pierced mother of pear rectangular box containing counters with painted figures, a mother of pearl bodkin carved in the shape of a cornucopia, a mother of pearl rectangular box with pierced pastoral scene containing a toothpick, an ivory and silver souvenir notebook with silk lining, a small knife with mother of pearl and ormolu mounted handle, a pair of silver scissors with pierced mother of pearl and ormolu mounted handles, a mother of pearl book mark with ormolu loop handle, a silver pencil case, a small silver and mother of pearl knife, a silver corn knife with mother of pearl and ormolu handle, a mother of pearl letter opener, a large silver and mother of pearl knife, a silver seal with mother of pearl handle, a stiletto, a small circular glass tubular scent bottle with silver gilt suspension loop, a silver and bristle tooth brush with carved mother of pearl handle, a perfume bottle with silver top, a steel corkscrew, a carved mother of pearl thimble with gold shield, a mother of pearl waxer a silvergilt and mother of pearl sugar scoop, two rectangular tortoiseshell veneered boxes the lids embellished with mother of pearl and metal mounts one of a butterfly the other of foliate design, one containing pins the other containing needles, an early 19th century German dessert and teaspoon, two circular cut glass pots with covers, three large cut glass perfume bottles with stoppers,a cut glass cup and saucer, a cut glass tazza, a small rectangular cut glass tray, two cut glass liquer glasses in velvet cases, two matching cut glass perfume bottles with silver tops, two cut glass perfume bottles, a smaller cut glass perfume bottle, a glass stopper and a cut glass oblong tray,
above a frieze drawer and fringing above octagonal tapering folding legs on claw and ball feet, joined by a later flattened metal stretcher, 46cm wide, 46cm deep, 56cm high (18in wide, 18in deep, 22in high).


  • Provenance
    Believed to have belonged to either Mary Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857),
    or Augusta Duchess of Cambridge (1797-1889)
    Inherited by Rear-Admiral Sir Adolphus Augustus FitzGeorge (1846-1922)
    Bequeathed to his daughter Olga Mary Adelaide FitzGeorge (1877-1928)
    Thence by family descent to the present owner.
    This travelling dressing table is a remarkable survival and belonged to the
    descendents of George III and Queen Charlotte. The exterior is decorated
    with a radiating geometric pattern of alternate mother of pearl and tortoise
    shell centred by a checkerboard. Inside is a splendid collection of
    scissors, knives and brushes with mother of pearl handles together with an
    ivory covered notebook and two blotters; surrounding these are cut glass
    bottles, bowls and dishes. Some of the fittings have early 19th century
    Frankfurt hallmarks. Inside the lid is a mirror and there is a concealed
    drawer at the front. The legs fold up into the body of the table making it
    easy to transport; the metal frame below the feet is a later addition,
    presumably made to provide extra stability.
    The table is clearly described in the will of Adolphus Augustus FitzGorge,
    eldest son of George 2nd Duke of Cambridge and great-grandson of George III.
    In his will proved on the 2nd February 1923, he bequeaths the table to his
    only daughter Olga FitzGeorge describing it as follows:
    A travelling dressing table fitted with many articles and a drawer made of
    mother of pearl and many woods, folding and extending legs nearly perfect
    belonged probably to Mary Duchess of Gloucester possibly Augusta Duchess of
    The provenance given in Sir Adolphus's will is complex because the two women
    in question came from separate branches of the Royal Family. It is further
    complicated by the fact that almost no inventories were made of the royal
    palaces at this time, so finding any earlier documentary evidence is
    extremely difficult.
    Adolphus's Great Aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester
    Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) was the fourth daughter of
    George III. In 1816 she married her first cousin, Prince William Frederick,
    Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the son of George III's brother, Prince
    William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh. She lived most of her
    married life at Bagshot Park, but after William's death she moved to White
    Lodge in Richmond Park. They had no children together and so when she died
    she left her possessions to her sisters, nephews and nieces as well as to
    friends and servants. Unusually for royal wills, she made a long list of
    individual items even including the names of the room where each object was
    located. She was extremely generous to her nephew George 2nd Duke of
    Cambridge (and father of Adolphus) and left him many important paintings
    including a picture of Maria Duchess of Gloucester by Reynolds and a full
    length picture of Queen Charlotte by Gainsborough together with furniture
    and jewellery including 'a gold watch and chain given to me by my father' 'a
    small clock with a black boy' and also 'my set of Amethysts and
    Diamonds'.(See NA PROB 11/2253). Mary also left most of the furniture and
    effects at White Lodge to him. So generous was she in fact, that when
    George's own mother died some thirty years later she left everything to his
    two sisters saying, 'I wish to express my fondest love for my son George
    William Frederick Charles Duke of Cambridge but knowing him to be amply
    provided for I have thought it right to bequeath the bulk of my property to
    my daughters.'
    Adolphus's Grandmother, Augusta Duchess of Cambridge
    Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, Duchess of Cambridge (1797-1889) was the
    wife of Adolphus 1st Duke of Cambridge and thus the daughter in law of
    George III and Queen Charlotte. She was the third daughter of Prince
    Frederick of Hesse, and his wife, Princess Caroline Polyxene of
    Nassau-Usingen, and was born in Hesse, very close to Frankfurt. Through her
    father, she was a great-granddaughter of George II. In her will, proved on
    the 31st May 1889, there are no less than five codicils, most of which
    relate to bequests for her servants As described above she left all her
    furniture, carriages and wine to her two daughters Augusta and Mary
    Adelaide, rather than to her son George. It seems unlikely therefore that
    she was the source of the dressing table.
    Adolphus FitzGeorge (1846-1922)
    Sir Adolphus was born in 1846, the eldest son of George William Charles,
    second duke of Cambridge (1819-1904). He joined the Royal Navy at the age of
    14 and by 1872 had been appointed flag-lieutenant to Admiral Sir Rodney
    Mundy, Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth. In 1872, he was promoted to
    commander and following a period at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich,
    and as Inspecting Officer of Coastguard at Scarborough, he was given command
    of the sloop Rapid in the Mediterranean. He became captain 1881and was
    promoted to rear-admiral on the retired list in 1896. After he left the
    Navy, he was appointed Deputy Ranger of Richmond Park. For many years he
    acted as equerry to his father, and in 1904, the year in which the Duke
    died, he was created a Knight Commander of .the "Royal " Victorian Order
    Sir Adolphus had two wives, firstly, Sophia Jane (1857-1920), the daughter
    of Mr. Thomas Holden, of Winstead Hall, Hull, by whom he had one daughter.
    Following the death of the first Lady FitzGeorge, and only two years before
    his own death, he married, Marguerite Beatrice (1863-1934), daughter of John
    Watson, of Waresley Court, Hartlebury, Worcestershire.
    The family lived at 20 Eccleston Square SW1.

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