Mallett Items Lead Sale of English Furniture and Clocks

. May 11, 2009

Celebrating the beauty of exceptional British craftsmanship, and nurturing the powerful international appeal which it possesses, Mallett have long held a revered position as one of London’s top destinations for important English furniture. Christie’s are pleased to announce that on Thursday, 4 June 2009 a selection of 66 works from Mallett will lead the London sale of Important English Furniture and Clocks. Highlights which reflect the exemplary quality, condition and provenance at the core of the Mallett ethos include an extraordinary George III mahogany stand with mica and shellwork temple, known as The Sharpham Shellwork, circa 1775 (estimate: £150,000-250,000); a William and Mary black and polychrome Bantamwork cabinet on giltwood stand, circa 1690 (estimate: £30,000-50,000) and a George I longcase clock by Quare and Horseman, circa 1720 (estimate: £40,000-60,000).

Elsewhere in the Important English Furniture and Clocks sale, highlights include an exceptionally rare pair of George II white, blue and polychrome-japanned bureau cabinets, signed by John Golding and William Rider, circa 1730 (estimate: £500,000-800,000); a pair of George III ormolu-mounted polychrome-lacquer commodes, attributed to Pierre Langlois (estimate: £400,000-600,000); a pair of George III giltwood pier glasses bought by Evelyn Waugh in 1957 (estimate £150,000-250,000); a William and Mary longcase clock, circa 1698 by Thomas Tompion (1639-1713) (estimate: £200,000-300,000) and a fine Queen Anne ebony and gilt-metal mounted striking table clock, by Daniel Quare (1649-1724) (estimate: £50,000-80,000).

Rufus Bird, Director and Head of Sale, Christie’s London: “The Mallett ‘look’ has always been recognisable; found not only in their simple, but always chic, lamps or étagères, several of which are included in this section of the sale, but also in the greatest pieces of giltwood and mahogany furniture. This select offering provides powerful insight into that undeniably British, yet wholly international, Mallett ‘look.’ Christie’s are pleased to be part of the continuing evolution of this British institution.”

Underpinned by a tale of romance, the intriguing Sharpham Shellwork, circa 1775, (estimate: £150,000-250,000), is regarded as one of the greatest pieces of 18th century English decorative art, exemplifying the height of beauty and quality. It may once have contained a basin and ewer and comprises a golden gazebo that celebrates ‘love’s triumph’; it is likely to have been commissioned around 1762 for the marriage of Captain Philemon Pownall (d. 1780) to Jane Pownall (d. 1778). The temple is polychromed with rare West Indian shells, which Pownall may have acquired whilst amassing a personal fortune as a naval privateer in the West-Indies, the temple is thought to have been executed by Jane Pownoll; the George III mahogany base is attributed to the Golden Square cabinet makers Mayhew and Ince.

Dramatic beauty is epitomised by the superb William and Mary black and polychrome Bantamwork cabinet on giltwood stand, circa 1690 (estimate: £30,000-50,000), which was originally part of the collection of Sir Henry Price of Wakehurst Place, Sussex. The term ‘Bantamwork’, which contemporary laymen referred to as ‘cutt-work’, ‘cutt Japan’ or ‘hollow burnt Japan’, refers to decoration that is cut into a layer of gesso and then lacquered in colours as opposed to flat lacquer or ‘japanned’ decoration. The technique consisted of overlaying a base of wood with a series of increasingly fine white clays and fibrous grasses. Over this surface, lacquer was applied and polished before the design was incised and the hollowed out portions filled with colour and gilt and finished with a clear lacquer to protect it. Much of the lacquer was imported from China through Coromandel in India, or the Dutch colony Batavia, the former name for Djakarta, Indonesia.

Daniel Quare (1649-1724) was one of the most illustrious clockmakers of England’s golden age of horology and supplied clocks to many of the royal houses of Europe. This George I longcase clock by Quare and Horseman, circa 1720 (estimate: £40,000-60,000), is a beautiful example; the grand case-design is thought to have been reserved for his month clocks. George I held Quare in high regard and though Quare, as a Quaker, was unable to accept the post of King’s Watchmaker, the King allowed him unlimited free access to the Palace. In 1718 Quare took his former apprentice, Stephen Horseman, into partnership and became Quare and Horseman.

Further captivating works range from an exquisite pair of early 18th century French needlework wall hangings in wool and silk (estimate: £15,000-25,000), and a stellar pair of early 18th century George I walnut side chairs, each with an attractive shell-and-husk carved crest on a pounced ground and green velvet upholstered drop-in seats (estimate: £20,000-30,000), through to a pair of late 19th/early 20th century finely detailed Chinese cinnabar lacquer lamps with elegant cream silk shades (estimate: £10,000-15,000). Beautiful craftsmanship is also found in a pair of late 18th century Louis XVI Granito Rosso vases (estimate: £12,000-18,000), an elegant George I gilt-gesso table, circa 1720 (estimate: £15,000-25,000) and a graceful pair of George III mahogany concertina-action cardtables, circa 1770 (estimate: £25,000-40,000).

In addition to the superb works from Mallett, Christie’s sale of Important English Furniture & Clocks will include the best examples from Charles II to Queen Victoria. The main focus will be the Georgian period of the 18th and early 19th centuries; led by an exceptionally rare pair of George II white, blue and polychrome-japanned bureau-cabinets, signed by the craftsmen John Golding and William Rider, circa 1730 (estimate: £500,000-800,000). Makers names are rarely found on early 18th century English furniture and neither maker has been previously recorded. Further furniture highlights include a pair of George III polychrome-lacquer commodes, attributed to Pierre Langlois, originally supplied to John, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham (d. 1812) (estimate: £400,000-600,000) and a pair of George III giltwood pier glasses, from Combe Florey bought by Evelyn Waugh in 1957 (estimate £150,000-250,000).

A fine example of clock-making by England’s greatest clockmaker, Thomas Tompion (1639-1713) is found in a William and Mary longcase clock, circa 1698 (estimate: £200,000-300,000). This clock was in the Iden Collection, one of the greatest collections of English clocks formed in the early 20th Century. A further clock highlight is a particularly fine Queen Anne ebony and gilt-metal mounted striking table clock, made by Daniel Quare (1649-1724) (estimate: £50,000 80,000).

Category: Auction News

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