Description & Technical information

A suite of George III giltwood seat furniture consisting of a settee and a pair of armchairs almost certainly by Thomas Chippendale.
Note: The suite has been re-gilded. The back of the settee was reduced in height shortly after manufacture.  Surface analysis has revealed that the alteration shares exactly the same history of gilding layers as the rest of the settee.
The design of the suite over all corresponds to the output of Chippendale's workshop.  The sinuous curve of the back and the serpentine front as well as the exceptionally high quality carving point to a leading London cabinet-maker, whilst the anthemion cresting, husk carved tablet, typical scroll arm finial, blocked tapering legs with finely leaf carved toes and clamping notches leave no doubt about the authorship of this suite.
Alterations to furniture were not uncommon. An alteration carried out by Chippendale to a 'sofa' is recorded in the Harewood archives.
'1797, Feb. 7, Altering your large Sofa by lowering the Back and making the Seat Shallower, finishing Do in burnish'd Gold and White, double stuffing in fine Linen in the French manner, with a Squab, 3 back Cushions, border'd &0 2 Bolsters covering with your Blue Stripe Taberay and finishing with Blue Silk Gimp and Silk Cord £15  12   -   '
The Harewood sofa would have been part of a suite of furniture from Harewood House in London which was purchased by Edwin Lascelles from the Duke of Roxburgh in 1795. The house was sold partially furnished and it is therefore possible that the sofa was acquired with the house. A new room layout with tall paintings on the walls perhaps made it necessary to lower the back of the sofa.
Circumstances of this kind, although entirely speculative, would provide a plausible  explanation for the alteration in height of our settee.
The settee:
Height: 2 ft 10 ½ in; 87.5 cm
Height of seat: 1 ft 3 in; 38 cm
Width: 5 ft 7 ½ in; 171 cm
Depth: 2 ft 9 in; 84 cm
The chairs:
Height: 3 ft ½ in; 93 cm
Height of seat: 1 ft 5 ½ in; 44.5 cm
Width: 2 ft 1½ in; 65 cm
Depth: 2 ft 2 in; 66 cm

Date:  1780
Period:  George II, 18th century
Origin:  English
Medium: Giltwood
Provenance: M. Harris & Sons, London, England.
Collection of Robert J. Dunham, New York, USA, until 1947.
Sotheby's, London, 9 March 1961.
J. A. Pearson.
Private collection, Lancashire, England.
Literature: Judith Goodison, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale Junior, London 2017, p, 135.
F. Lewis Hinckley, A Directory of Antique Furniture, New York, 1953, p. 186, fig. 575.
Burlington Magazine, February 1962, supplement page, XIII.
Sotheby's, 'Catalogue of Works of Art, Oriental Rugs and Carpets, English Carpets, Tapestries, English Clocks and Fine English Furniture', sale catalogue, London, 9th March 1962, pp. 26/27, lot 135.
F. Lewis Hinckley, Metropolitan Furniture of the Georgian Years, New York 1988, p. 145, illus. 228.
Categories: Furniture