Width: 23" 59cm
Depth: 21" 53cm
The shield shaped backs carved to the top with a wheat sheaf motif above a pierced palmette, with carved trailing foliage and a petera to the sides, tapering into carved foliage, a patera and a fan motif, with moulded down-swept scroll-carved arms and a bowed caned seat with a squab cushion, on moulded square tapering legs, surmounted by carved paterae and terminating in spade feet, stamped RE.
These chairs were certainly made for Ickwell Bury, Bedfordshire, the home of the Harvey Family. Originally built in 1680 for John Harvey, the house remained in the family ownership until it was sold by John Audley Harvey in 1924. The house was sadly completely destroyed by fire in 1937. With Norman Adams in the 1980’s: DKF Heatheote Esq., Badlingham Manor, Vost’s Newmarket, 16th September 1999, lot 37
Originally these chairs formed part of a set of 10 or more armchairs. One (from a group of 6 sold by Norman Adams in 1965) is illustrated in 18th century English Furniture, The Norman Adams Collection, London 1983. P.82. They are recorded in an inventory of the contents of Ickwell Bury in 1819.
The Gillows Estimate sketch books for the period 1788 to 1797 illustrate designs for various chairs which incorporate elements seen in the present lot which would seem to link these chairs with this firm. The fine quality of the carving and of the timber used, typical of the firm, would also support the attribution. Further support is the RE stamp. The stamp can be found on an armchair which is identical to a set of chairs known to have been supplied by Gillows for the dining room of Workington Hall, Cumberland for the Curwen Family. The design for this armchair appears in the Gillow sketch books dated 19th January 1788 and intended for N. Crompton, Esq., Manchester. The identity of RE is not conclusive, but the firm of Richard and Robert Edmundson or Edmondson, who were Freeman of Lancaster and had a cabinet making business in Liverpool which started in 1781, must be a distinct possibility. They are recorded on a number of occasions as working for Gillows and set up an upholstery branch to their cabinet making business in 1788. They could well have been subcontracted to do this work.