A pair of 19th century satinwood, rosewood, stained sycamore and fruitwood marquetry serpentine commodes  (2)

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 354TP Y
A pair of 19th century satinwood, rosewood, stained sycamore and fruitwood marquetry serpentine commodes
Sold for £ 6,875 (US$ 9,091) inc. premium

HOME & Interiors

7 Mar 2018, 10:00 GMT

London, Knightsbridge

Lot Details
A pair of 19th century satinwood, rosewood, stained sycamore and fruitwood marquetry serpentine commodes
Each with line-inlay and stringing, inlaid with ribbon-tied floral and foliate tendrils, birds and insects, the pair of doors enclosing one shelf, above a shaped apron, on splayed front feet, 110cm wide x 45.5cm deep x 95cm high, (43in wide x 17 1/2in deep x 37in high) (2)


  • Provenance
    The offered lot originally belonged, according to their family history, to Richard George Penn Curzon, 4th Earl Howe (1861-1929), at a time when the 4th Earl's primary familial residence was Gopsall Hall, in Leicestershire.

    Then in 1919, when the 4th Earl Howe sold Gopsall, the present pair of commodes were re-located, along with the entire family, to their historic secondary home at Penn House, Buckinghamshire. From then on, the commodes have passed by descent to the current owner.

    Gopsall Hall
    Following his purchase of the Manor House at Gopsall in 1618, Sir Thomas Merry resided there with his family until 1677. Then, after only eight years, a brief period during which Sir John Lowther owned Gopsall, the Jacobean home and all of its estate was bought by Humphrey Jennens in 1685. Charles Jennens lived at Gopsall from his birth in 1700 until his father Humphrey's death in 1747, at which time Charles inherited the house together with the substantial family fortune.

    Charles, who evidently disliked the antiquated appearance of the Jacobean property, chose to replace it with a new, more grandiose building befitting his recently obtained wealth and status. The 'new' Gopsall inevitably reflected the fashionable Neo-Palladian taste which was the main aristocratic trend of the time. As a result of Charles Jennens's dynamic creative leadership, Gopsall Hall became by all accounts the most impressive Georgian house in the whole of Leicestershire. The architecture and interiors were largely inspired and motivated by the contemporary pattern book designs published by such renowned and important figures as Batty Langley, William Halfpenny and of course not least, William Kent. Records show that expenditure for the construction of Gopsall, which began in 1750, totalled a then monumental figure of £100,000.

    Unfortunately nothing of Gopsall Hall remains today, although an account written by John Curtis in his publication A Topographical History of the County of Leicester describes Gopsall in all its glory, of which the following passage summarises the exterior:

    'In the centre of the south front are six Corinthian columns of fine proportions, supporting a row of balustrades, behind which there is a receding pediment, (part of the wall of the house itself) having a ship in a storm in white stone, with a haven in the foreground, and an inscription over the entrance, 'Fortiter occupa Portum'. On each side of the centre of this front is a wing (that on the left forming the Chapel and the other the Library), projecting 27 feet from the front, the whole length of which, including the two wings, is 180 feet. The principal entrance is at the north front, and there is a small stone portico over the door which leads into the Entrance Hall.'

    Handel and Gopsall
    The Estate stretched over an expansive parkland area of 724 acres and included a walled garden, a Chinoiserie boathouse and perhaps most significant of all, the beautiful Gopsall Temple. (A magnificent Entrance was also built in 1818, directly based upon a Jeffrey Wyatville design which itself was modelled on the ancient Arch of Constantine). The Temple is certainly the most fascinating element of Gopsall due to its historical connection to one of the greatest composers in the history of music, George Frederic Handel (1685-1759).

    It is widely acknowledged that Handel, a regular guest at Gopsall during Humphrey Jennens's lifetime, was inspired by the Temple to create The Messiah, one of the most important musical compositions of the 18th century. Indeed Handel may have used the organ in the Gopsall Chapel, where he is documented as playing on a number of occasions, in order to assist him in this purpose. Yet the association between Handel and Gopsall is further strengthened by the fact that Charles Jennens, who was an author of some repute, served as the librettist for both the earlier oratorio, Saul (1737), as well as in fact The Messiah itself. The popular Apocryphal anecdote relating to the latter's first performance at Covent Garden in 1743 tells of George II, during his Majesty's attendance at the triumphant premiere, standing up for the entire Hallelujah chorus in recognition of Handel's genius.

    Since Charles Jennens, who died a bachelor in 1773, had no direct heir, Gopsall Hall was granted to his cousin, the Hon. Penn Assheton Curzon, after a lengthy legal dispute between the various parties involved. On the latter's death in 1797, Gopsall passed to his son, Richard William Penn Curzon-Howe, 1st Earl Howe (1796-1870).

    Among numerous other celebrated figures who stayed at Gopsall, Edward VII was perhaps the most important. Indeed, highlighting the significance of the Earl Howe family and the resplendence of Gopsall Hall generally, His Majesty the King attended a shooting weekend there in 1902, along with the Queen and other members of the Royal family. Despite such an incredible history, the Howe family made, one must assume, the extremely difficult decision to sell Gopsall in 1919. Sadly, following the end of the Second World War and several subsequent years of abandonment, the house was completely demolished by 1952 at a time when there were other urgent architectural priorities for the nation.

    The Earls Howe
    The Hon. Penn Curzon was the only son of Assheton Curzon, 1st Viscount Curzon (1730-1820) of Penn in Buckinghamshire, and both served as consecutive Members of Parliament for Clitheroe. Penn Curzon, who married Lady Sophia Charlotte, 2nd Baroness Howe, was in turn succeeded by his only son, Richard William Curzon-Howe (1796-1870). In 1821, the latter was honoured with an elevation in title from 2nd Viscount Curzon to 1st Earl Howe.

    Included among the numerous notable descendants of the 1st Earl Howe were; the 3rd Earl who served as a General in the British Army during the latter part of the 19th century; the 4th Earl, Richard George Penn Curzon, who took an active role, albeit not a cabinet position, in the Conservative government that was in power between 1895 and 1905; and the 5th Earl Howe, Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon (1884-1964), who was involved with motor racing as well as being a Consevative M.P. himself.

    Penn House, near Amersham, has always been the Buckinghamshire home of the historic Penn, Curzon and Howe families, who can collectively trace their lineage as far back as the Middle Ages.

    J. Curtis, A Topographical History of the County of Leicester, 1831.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories, buyer's premium excluding Cars, Motorbikes, Wine and Coin & Medal sales, will be as follows:

Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000.

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
TP Off site storage location

Lots denoted with a "TP" will be moved to an offsite storage location (Cadogan Tate, Auction House Services, 241 Acton Lane, London NW10 7NP, UK) and will only be available for collection from this location at the date stated in the catalogue. Please note transfer and storage charges will apply to any lots not collected after 14 calendar days from the auction date.


Subject to CITES regulations when exporting items outside of the EU, see clause 13.

  1. Thomas Moore
    Specialist - Furniture
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 8963 2816
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2805
Similar Items