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Great English furniture: Rare pieces from important American private collections at Mallett
A very rare William and Mary cocus wood oyster-veneered cabinet on stand, England c1700.

LONDON.- A major exhibition of English furniture which has been in important American private collections for many years is to be held by Mallett, one of the world’s leading antique dealers, at Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London W1 from 20 May to 1 June 2013. Great English Furniture will celebrate the skills of some of the best furniture makers in history and also provide an opportunity for collectors to buy pieces which have not been on the market for at least a quarter of a century.

Highlights of the exhibition will include a magnificent Master’s Chair, probably made for an anti-French society in the 18th century and one of only two known examples, an exceptional giltwood trophy attributed to Sefferin Nelson and made for the Prince Regent’s opulent home at Carlton House in London, a rare William and Mary cocus wood cabinet and an elaborately carved Chippendale period carved giltwood mirror. The majority of the pieces in the exhibition are 18th century and have been sourced by Mallett from private collections in the United States.

One of the most fascinating pieces in the exhibition is a rare George II Master’s Chair, almost certainly made for the Anti-Gallican Society, founded in 1745 when Britain and France were at war. ‘For our Country’, the motto of the Society, is inlaid on the imposing walnut armchair, which is almost six feet high. It would have been made c1750 for use in a dining club of the Anti-Gallican Society, which aimed to deter what it called “the insidious arts of the French nation”. Like many 18th century clubs, its members combined the pursuit of convivial pleasure with promoting a cause – in this case opposing French influence and Anglo-French trade. The chair has broad sloping shoulders ornamented with carved and gilt acanthus and scroll-shaped terminals. The arms end in finely carved lions’ masks. The only other such chair known is in the collection of Temple Newsam, the great country house near Leeds. The price of this rare and historic chair will be in the region of £125,000.

Another highlight of the Mallett exhibition with a fascinating history is an exceptional giltwood trophy, representing the victory of peace over war, attributed to Sefferin Nelson c1795. Nelson worked at Carlton House, the London residence of the Prince Regent, later George IV, as a carver gilder and frame maker. Henry Holland, the architect who turned the house into a palatial home for the heir to the throne, designed a set of giltwood trophies for the throne room at Carlton House. He commissioned them from the famous marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre, who had the order completed by Nelson. Four of these trophies are now in the throne room at Buckingham Palace, where most of the contents of Carlton House were taken after the latter’s demolition in 1825. These are of the same dimensions and decorated with similar carvings and motifs to the one in the exhibition at Mallett. It will be priced in excess of £100,000.

Great English Furniture will also include a very rare William and Mary cocus wood cabinet on a stand, made in England c1700. This oyster-veneered cabinet has a rectangular top above a moulded cornice and a pair of doors enclosing a fitted interior. Inside are two drawers around a central door with a row of pigeonholes on top. The whole piece stands on barley-twist turned legs joined by a waved stretcher and ending in bun feet. The cabinet will be on sale for more than £100,000.

A fine Chippendale period carved giltwood mirror will be another highlight of the exhibition. The elaborately carved mirror of Rococo design, made in England c1765, has a central cartouche with foliate C-scrolls and bell flowers, elaborately pierced with an unusual double-layered cresting, flanked by hoho birds. This will also be priced in excess of £100,000. A fine Queen Anne double back walnut settee of rich colour and patination made in England c1720 and a rare late 17th century William and Mary desk decorated with ‘seaweed’ marquetry inlay, primarily in holly, are among the many other magnificent examples of furnituremakers’ art in the exhibition. Both will be on sale for a price in the region of £50,000.

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