Pair of George III Inlaid Walnut, Harewood, Tulipwood and Holly Parquetry and Giltwood Side Tables
In the manner of John Linnell, circa 1775
Each breakfronted rectangular top decorated with a central panel of flowerheads on a cubed ground within a border of trellis designs and flowerheads, above a conforming frieze carved with C-scrolls and stylized sunburts, raised on turned circular tapering fluted legs ending in turned feet. Height 32 1/2 inches (82.5 cm), width 43 inches (1.09 m), (depth 20 inches (50.8 cm).
Sotheby's, New York, December 13, 1986, lot 264
John Linnell (1729-1796), a cabinet-maker upholsterer and carver was the son of the cabinet-maker William Linnell (b. circa 1703-d.1763), joining his father's firm in the late 1740s. He studied at St. Martin's Lane Academy, which had been founded by William Hogarth in 1735, becoming closely acquainted with Rococo design through his contacts with an international group of fellow students. It is obvious that his talent for design which is apparent through his many surviving drawings was a large factor in the rapid expansion of the family firm in the early 1750s. In 1754 new and larger workshops, together with a dwelling house, were opened at 28 Berkeley Square, and at his father's death in 1763 he inherited a firm employing almost fifty people. The firm had an extensive clientele including William Drake at Shardeloes, the 1st Duke of Northumberland at Syon Park and Alnwick Castle, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne at Lansdowne House and the 5th Duke of Argyll at Inverary Castle. It is apparent that Linnell and the architect Robert Adam had a number of mutual clients and at times must have worked closely together.
The present tables, with their geometrical trellis parquetry tops of French transitional breakfront form, suggests a maker familiar with the work of Simon Oeben, the Parisian master ébéniste. Christopher Furlohg and his brother-in-law Georg Haupt, young Swedish cabinet makers newly arrived in London in the late 1760s, had both worked for Oeben in Paris and were introduced to John Linnell by the architect Sir William Chambers. Chambers was born in Sweden to Scottish parents and was helpful in making introductions for Swedes arriving in London. The two Swedes would have been in the vanguard of contemporary French design and, as such, been important sources of inspiration for Linnell and the newly-fashionable French taste in London. Haupt returned to Stockholm in 1769 when he was appointed cabinet maker to the King of Sweden but it appears that Furlohg stayed at bit longer with Linnell. He established premises with his brother-in-law, Johann Christian Linning at 24 Tottenham Court Road by 1772. It is probable that Furlohg continued to supply Linnell with the parquetry panels for which he was so celebrated.
A commode with related trellis parquetry panels made by Christopher Furlohg circa 1772 is illustrated by Lucy Wood, The Lady Lever Art Gallery Catalogue of Commodes, 1994, p. 106-114, i-ii. Wood illustrates two other examples with trellis parquetry, a group of three commodes now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art ibid., pp. 110-112, figs 104-106 and figs. 108-109, as well as fig. 110, the pair to the Lady Lever commode.
The trellis parquetry enclosing flowerheads is similar to those of a pair of pier tables made by John Linnell for the 5th Duke of Argyll at Inveraray Castle, Argyll, Scotland, circa 1780; see Hayward, H. and Kirkham, P., vol. I, pp. 126-128, figs. 307-208. Another pair with similar parquetry at Heveningham Hall, Suffolk, is illustrated by Hayward, H. and Kirkham, P., op. cit., vol. II, p. 162, figs. 309-310.
The fluted tapering legs headed by egg-and-dart-carved collars to the tops of the legs of the present tables are similar to those on a George III mahogany table, circa 1760, now located at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. W.31-1979. This table was designed by James 'Athenian' Stuart (1713-1788) for the bedchamber of Georgiana, Countess Spencer at Spencer House. Stuart was responsible for the original design of Spencer House, one of the first houses in London to incorporate authentic Greek architectural details.
Literature: Furniture History The Journal of the Furniture History Society, 1969, vol. V, 'The Drawings of John Linnell in the Victoria and Albert Museum', Helena Hayward, Helena Hayward and Pat Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980, Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986, pp. 543-548
C The Noel and Harriette Levine Collection
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