, one of the worlds leading antiques dealers, achieved its best sales at a fair for more than a decade at Masterpiece, which took place in London from 28 June to 4 July. A mixture of British, continental European and American private collectors bought important pieces including a desk commissioned by the Duke of Clarence, later William IV, with a fascinating story behind it, a rare and recently rediscovered set of Regency chairs and a pair of exceptional George III commodes attributed to William Hallett, the most fashionable cabinetmaker of his day. This has been our most successful fair of the 21st century, said Giles Hutchinson Smith, Chief Executive of Mallett, which recently moved to magnificent new premises in Ely House, an elegant former bishops palace in Mayfair, central London.
The Carlton House Desk, so called because this design was originally supplied to the Prince Regent, later George IV, for his London residence at Carlton House, was bought by a collector for a six figure sum. This particular writing table was made for the Duke of Clarence, the Prince Regents brother, who succeeded him as King, becoming William IV. The rare mahogany and satinwood table was presented by the Duke to his chaplain, the Rev William Ellis, in 1797, probably as a gift to the clergyman for having discreetly baptized the ten illegitimate children he had had by his mistress, the Irish actress Dorothea Jordan.
A very rare set of ten recently rediscovered Regency mahogany chairs, also fetched a six figure sum from a private buyer. The chairs, dating from c1820 and attributed to the great furniture makers Gillows of Lancaster, are decorated with hunting scenes painted by John Nost Sartorius on each of the raised tablet back-rests. The chairs were completely unrecorded and had been in a private house for many years. They relate to a companion set depicting horse racing, signed by Sartorious and dated 1818, which are in the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket. Sartorius has left us with a brilliant record of sporting life in the late Georgian period and his clients included many of the most famous names of the era. The discovery of these chairs represents an important addition to his known work.
An exceptional pair of George III mahogany commodes attributed to William Hallett was another major sale by Mallett at Masterpiece. Hallett (1707-1781) was the most fashionable cabinetmaker of his day supplying furniture to some of the greatest houses in England. The commodes were bought by a private collector for a six figure sum. A rare late 18th century bronze figure of a shepherd in the manner of the English sculptor John Cheere also fetched a six figure sum. A set of 12 watercolours of Chinese courtiers, painted in China c1790, and a fine large scale pair of cast iron models of lions, probably made by the Dema foundry in France c1870, were sold by Mallett at the fair, both for five figure sums.