George I Gilt-Gesso Side Table attributed to James Moore
The rectangular carved gesso top with re-entrant corners and ornamented with scrolled strap-work, foliate scrolls, clasps, foliate berried tendrils and flower heads, centered by a cypher framed by conjoined C-scrolls, all on a ring-punched ground, the frieze with stiff leaves and centered by a foliate spray above a lozenge- and tendril-carved edge, raised on shell-carved cabriole legs and ending in rounded hipped feet. Height 30 1/2 inches (77.5 cm), width 37 1/2 inches (95.3 cm), depth 22 1/4 inches (56.6 cm).
This table is almost certainly from the workshop of the Royal Cabinet Maker James Moore. Moore (c. 1670-d. 1726), of Nottingham Court, Shorts Gardens, St. Giles-in-the-Fields. No records exist of his early career. Moore was possibly originally apprenticed to Elizabeth Gumley (1674-d. 1751) and her son John (1691-1727), whose advertisement in The London Gazette of June 21, 1694 records their premises 'At Salisbury-Exchange in the Strand, where the Manufactory was kept, by John Gumley, Cabinet-maker, at the corner of Norfolk Street . . . is a Sale of all sorts of Cabinetwork, as Japan Cabinets, Chests of Drawers, Screutores, Writing-Tables, and Dressing Suits of all sorts . . . '. In 1714 they entered into partnership with Moore, an association that endured until Moore's death in 1726 (Tessa Murdoch, The Burlington Magazine, 'The king's cabinet-maker: the giltwood furniture of James Moore the Elder', June 2003, pp. 408-420). The attribution to Moore of the present table is based on aspects of both his documented and attributed furniture. These include the similarity of the drawing and execution of the incised gilt-gesso top with its C-scrolled conjoined strap-work, the elongated leaves and tendrils with small flowerheads, foliate terminals, foliate clasps and pendant husks and linked beads. The inclusion of a coat of arms or cypher within the central cartouche to the top is also recorded on other types of furniture attributed to Moore. These include a pair of tables bearing the crest and coronet of Lord Cobham, circa 1715, formerly at Stowe House, a chest with the cypher W B and the Bateman family crest, for William Bateman who became the husband of Lady Anne Spencer, granddaughter of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, circa 1720 and a table, now at Chatsworth. One of Moore's major clients was Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, 'becoming as much involved with building work and the supervision of fitting out apartments as with cabinet making' at Blenheim Palace (Beard and Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, 1986. pp. 618-619).
A set of seat furniture with similar hipped feet at Erddig, Wrexham, North Wales, was supplied to John Mellor about 1720 and is attributed to John Belchier. Belchier, a cabinet-maker recorded at The Sun, had premises on the south side of St. Paul's Church Yard in 1717 until his death in 1753. His name is thought to be of Huguenot origin. He was possibly the son of another important craftsman, also John Belchier, who may well be the tradesman who worked extensively for Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu, at Boughton House. John Belchier, the younger, received his most significant commission from John Mellor at Erddig, Wales, for whom he produced a celebrated suite of gilt and silvered gesso furniture during the 1720s, (Martin Drury, `Early Eighteenth Century Furniture at Erddig,' Apollo, July 1978, pp. 46-55).
An almost identical table, one of a pair, from the collection of Lord Plender, is illustrated, Macquoid and Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, 1983. rev. ed., vol. III, p. 281, Fig. 21. R.W. Symonds writes about this pair of silvered gesso tables, Apollo, vol. XIV, December 1931, 'Furniture in the Collection of Lord Plender', pp. 305-307, figs. I-II, and illustrates a detail of the top, which also bears at cypher at the middle.
Interestingly, a set of dining chairs and a pair of tables made almost two decades later, circa 1740, with similar legs and rounded hipped feet made for the dining room at Stanwick Hall, Yorkshire, and now at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, are attributed to William Hallett (L. Wood, The Upholstered Furniture in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, 2008, vol. I, pp. 359-362, figs. 230-233). William Hallett was one of the most fashionable cabinet makers working in the second quarter of the 18th century. His clients included the 4th Duke of Beaufort at Badminton, Augusta, Princess of Wales; 1st Earl of Leicester at Holkham; Sir Matthew Featherstonhaugh at Uppark; 2nd Earl of Lichfield at Ditchley Park; 7th Earl of Pembroke at Wilton House, and 3rd Lord Burlington.
C Estate of Oleg Cassini, 19th Street Townhouse, New York
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