Two of Britains most historic art and antiques dealers are joining forces in a new and exciting collaborative venture to recreate the elegance of eighteenth-century London. Mallett
, which between them have been in business for a total of 400 years, will hold their first-ever joint exhibition entitled The Age of Elegance: Treasures from the Eighteenth-Century Town House at Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London W1, the stylish former bishops palace to which Mallett moved last year. The exhibition, combining furniture shown by Mallett with paintings contributed by Colnaghi, will take place from 18 June to 20 July 2013.
The exhibition will focus on the eighteenth-century London town house of which Ely House is a classic example as a forum for displaying art collections and the finest quality furniture. It will be arranged in a series of room settings focusing on the dining room, the salon and the cabinet, which will be hung and furnished thematically to recreate the ambience of a more elegant era. The salon, for example, will be hung with larger-scale history paintings and landscapes, principally from the French and Italian schools, while still lifes will feature in the dining room. By contrast, smaller works will be displayed in the more intimate setting of the cabinet.
This collaboration with Colnaghi, within arguably the most perfect surviving eighteenth-century London town house, is a very exciting prospect, said Giles Hutchinson Smith, Chief Executive of Mallett. Mallett has long been recognized as being the market leader in English and European decorative arts. It is therefore a wonderful opportunity to co-operate with Colnaghi, a gallery with a distinguished reputation for exhibiting great paintings.
Among the highlights of The Age of Elegance: Treasures from the Eighteenth-Century Town House will be a set of 12 George III armchairs attributed to the French furniture maker Francois Hervé and supplied to George John, 2nd Earl Spencer, c1791. It is not clear whether they were originally supplied for Spencer House in London or for the familys country home at Althorp, Northamptonshire but they were at the latter by 1814. These golden French cabriolet chairs originally formed part of an extensive suite of furniture, the rest of which remains at Althorp. They will be on sale for in excess of £300,000. The elegance of these chairs is matched by the magnificent Portrait of Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux, in uniform as a Lieutenant Colonel of the Garde du Roi by the French artist Louis-Rolland Trinquesse (1745-1800). This large painting which is 114in (289cm) high and 81in (206cm) wide has a fascinating history. The sitter Charles Grant, a member of a family of nobles who had emigrated from Scotland to France in the fourteenth century, gave the painting to Sir James Grant, head of Clan Grant, c1781-2, for obtaining recognition that he was a family descendant. It hung at Castle Grant in Scotland until a few years ago and will be priced in the region of £1 million. By contrast, an exquisite floral still life by Jan Brueghel II (1601-1678) measures just 12in (30cm) by 8in (20cm). This is typical of the small cabinet pictures which appealed to eighteenth-century connoisseurs and will be on sale for £740,000.
One of the most imposing pieces of furniture contributed by Mallett to the exhibition will be a highly refined pair of giltwood settees with serpentine shaped backs made in England c1775 in the manner of Thomas Chippendale. On sale for more than £400,000, they are thought to have been the property of Viscount Ullswater. Similar settees were supplied to clients by Chippendale. A pair of marquetry commodes attributed to the London cabinet-making practice of Mayhew & Ince and made c1775 will be another highlight of the exhibition, priced in excess of £2 million, while Colnaghi will exhibit a pair of beautifully painted pictures by the famous Venetian eighteenth-century master Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675-1741). Susanna and the Elders and Sophonisba receiving a cup of poison can be dated to the artists first period in England between 1708 and 1713. The pair, which will be on sale for £580,000, relate very closely to a series that Pellegrini painted for Burlington House, now home to the Royal Academy of Arts but then the London town house of Countess Burlington. Burlington House and Ely House are just a short distance from one another.