The Leicester house gesso table
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The Leicester house gesso table

Ronald Phillips Ltd

Date 1742

Period George II

Origin Englsih

Medium Gesso

Dimension 77.5 x 96.5 x 57 cm (30¹/₂ x 38 x 22¹/₂ inches)

A George II gilt gesso table by Benjamin Goodison.
This fine gesso table is of particular interest. Two silvered gesso tables of identical design and probably made for the same patron were formerly in the collection of Lord Plender and subsequently in the collection of Geoffrey Hart. Given the different treatments, of silvered and gilded gesso, it is likely that the tables belonged to different room settings within the same house, with one room featuring silvered and the other featuring gilded furniture.
Similar silvered and gilded decorative schemes, although of later date, could be found at Harewood House, Yorkshire, England, where the Circular Dressing Room featured silvered furniture and mirrors, while the State Bedroom featured gilded elements. Sadly the Circular Dressing Room was removed in Barry’s refurbishment in the 19th century, leaving only elements of its former splendour.
The cost of gesso furniture and the existence of three or potentially more identical tables (because the tables identified here would have been part of a suite), together with the Prince of Wales feathers on each table and the complicated monogram on each gesso top, indicate that the only possible patrons for this extraordinary suite of furniture were Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, and Augusta Charlotte, Princess of Wales, for their newly refurbished London residence at Leicester House. The Prince of Wales rented Leicester House as the rift between him and his parents increased. The absence of a crown above the monogram demonstrates his estrangement from his father, George II. Leicester House became a meeting place for opposition politicians, and the Prince of Wales feathers their symbol. In furniture design, many pieces were from this time onwards embellished with the plumes to show support for Frederick Louis. 
Leicester House was demolished in the 19th century, but the Royal accounts record that most of the rooms in the State apartments featured gilded furniture embellished with Prince of Wales plumes, and that the last room (the grand audience chamber) contained silvered furniture. This furniture was supplied by Benjamin Goodison, who at the time held the Royal Warrant for the Prince of Wales.

Date: 1742

Period: George II

Origin: Englsih

Medium: Gesso

Dimension: 77.5 x 96.5 x 57 cm (30¹/₂ x 38 x 22¹/₂ inches)

Provenance: Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, for Leicester House, London, England.
Collection of Major-General Sir Harold Augustus Wernher, 3rd baronet, GCVO, TD, Minister for the Arts, Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, England.
Private collection, USA.

Literature: Household accounts of Frederick, Prince of Wales, in the possession of the Earl of Scarborough, Sandbeck Park, RHA/5.
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. III, revised edition, 1954, p. 281.
‘The Age of Walnut, loan exhibition in aid of the Royal Northern Hospital’, exhibition catalogue, 1932, p. 13.
R. W. Symonds, ‘The Craft of the Wood-carver -  from examples in the collection of Col. Sir Harold Wernher’, Connoisseur, September 1938, p. 123, No. II / III.

Exhibition: ‘The Age of Walnut’, loan exhibition in aid of the Royal Northern Hospital, London, 1932.

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18th Century and Early 19th Century English Furniture, Objets d’Art, Glass, Clocks and Barometers

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