A George II carved walnut stool circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent

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Lot 13TP
A George II carved walnut stool
circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent

Sold for £ 62,500 (US$ 75,879) inc. premium
A George II carved walnut stool
circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent
With a petit point floral needlework seat above a shaped and scrolled foliate-edged seat frame centred to each side with a carved faun mask, on scallop shell and bellflower pendant clasped scrolled cabriole legs carved with hock hair, terminating in paw feet, with an ivorine plaque which reads: 'Frank Partridge, Works of Art, 26 King St., St. James's and New York', and also a printed paper label which reads: 'The Property of C.B.O. Clarke' 65cm wide x 49cm deep x 45cm high, (25 1/2in wide x 19in deep x 17 1/2in high)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    A.C.J. Wall Collection, Middleton Park, Oxon.

    The present lot appears illustrated in R. Edwards, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, 1969, London, p. 505, fig. 35, where it is dated circa 1725 and also recorded as then forming part of the Donaldson Collection.

    The design of the offered stool closely relates to a suite of exceptional Palladian side chairs and a matching settee evidently executed after a design by William Kent (1685-1748). This comparable suite was originally supplied for Houghton Hall in Norfolk, where it remains to this day. These Houghton chairs, which are upholstered in particularly fine green velvet, are each carved with a very similar central faun mask to that featuring on the present walnut model.

    There are also shared similarities in the scrolled and exaggerated cabriole shape of the legs, the conforming hock-carved hair, the distinctive serpentine form of the seat frames and use of motifs such as shells and lion paw feet. The giltwood set were made for the Main State Apartment and today are divided among the Drawing Room, Tapestry Dressing Room and Green Velvet Bedroom at Houghton. One of these chairs is also housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, W. 25: 1-2002, where it resides in Room 133, the Dr Susan Weber Gallery.

    Another distinctive characteristic that both the Houghton suite and the offered example have in common is their construction. They have beech rails, carving which is backed with pine and also pine blocking all of which provides these pieces with essential additional strengthening and probably explains why they remain in such good overall condition.

    Houghton Hall and William Kent
    Houghton was the historical home of Britain's first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), who was responsible for its construction during the 1720s. Although the earliest architectural work on Houghton was put into effect by James Gibbs (1682-1754) from 1722 onwards, it was William Kent who took over control of the interior decoration and furnishing of the main floor in 1725.

    The building itself is one of the most important and earliest examples in Britain of the Palladian style, which reached its height of popularity during the 1730s. However perhaps its most distinctive feature, the domed turrets, was in fact the invention of Gibbs.

    The aforementioned Kentian set of side chairs, with their attractive original green silk velvet upholstery, were supplied to accompany the incredibly impressive bed, also designed by Kent, which is hung with a similar but even more beautiful green velvet material. The result is that they perfectly complement each other within a bedroom devoted to Venus, the Roman goddess of sleep and love, whose symbolic colour was green. Added to this, the tapestries hanging in the room depict the love of Venus and Adonis while the bed itself is surmounted by a double shell, the main emblem of Venus and a reminder of her shell chariot.

    A.C.J. Wall, who was a successful business man born in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham, amassed a significant collection of English 18th century furniture in conjunction with an impressive array of ceramics, gold boxes, silver, painting, works of art and Chinese porcelain. Wall housed his collection at Middleton Park, in Oxfordshire, which was the home he bought in 1946.

    Middleton Park
    During the 17th century a castle, which had in fact been built in the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154) within the proximity of the current Middleton Park, was purchased by John Harman of Taynton. John Harman's son then oversaw the construction of a mansion on the present day site of Middleton. Subsequently one of his descendants, called Edmund Denton, sold the property in 1711 to the Honourable Henry Boyle, who was a cousin to the renowned Earl of Burlington.

    After various other owners and architectural alterations, including a period during the mid-18th century when Middleton Park was under the tenure of William Villiers, the 3rd Earl of Jersey, the 19th century version of the house with its stone facade was ultimately demolished in the early 20th century. Following that, the celebrated architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was responsible for the building which still stands at Middleton today. Lutyens, who both designed and oversaw the construction of the current house during the period 1934-8, seemingly modelled it on great classical architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, very much in keeping with the contents of its interior.
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A George II carved walnut stool circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent
A George II carved walnut stool circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent
A George II carved walnut stool circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent
A George II carved walnut stool circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent
A George II carved walnut stool circa 1730, probably after a design by William Kent
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