A set of eight George II mahogany hall chairs , circa 1750, the stylised shield shaped backs above shaped seat and supports joined by an angled stretcher, the seat front support with vacant dished recess, each 98cm high
Provenance: At Rockbeare Manor, Devon, until sold Bearnes, Hampton & Littlewood, 2 nd day's sale, 7 October 2015, lot 934
These mahogany hall chairs are inspired by the Italian Renaissance sgabello , a model of 'back-stool' that enjoyed lasting popularity in the 18th Century, as a result of its multi-purpose function as a hall chair but also for use in the garden and as occasional seating in the family chapel. The present chairs are closely related to a set of eighteen oak chairs at Ham House, Surrey, made by the London craftsman, George Nix (1664-1756), for which a bill for £18 survives (NT 1139637). Further examples include: a set of eighteen mahogany and marquetry hall chairs, attributed to Nix, bearing the crest of the Chester family of Chicheley Hall, the inlaid arms dating the chairs between 1721 and 1748, now at Montacute House, Somerset (NT 2900077); a set of eight inlaid mahogany chairs, attributed to Nix, bearing the crest for Sir Herbert Perrot Pakington, 5th Baronet (1701-1748) of Westwood House, near Droitwich, Worcestershire, now at Ashdown House, Berkshire (NT 493008) and a set of twelve oak chairs, painted with crests, attributed to Nix, at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk (NT 1398476). As shown, and based on the Ham House example, this model of chair is customarily attributed to Nix. However, a set of twelve oak hall chairs of near-identical profile was supplied by William Masters of Coventry Street, Piccadilly, to the 2nd Duke of Atholl for Blair Castle, Perthshire in 1751, and the same model was supplied by Alexander Peter to Dumfries House in 1759 (A. Coleridge, 'William Masters and some early 18th Century Furniture at Blair Castle, Scotland', The Connoisseur , October 1963, p. 79, fig. 5). Therefore, it is difficult to conclusively attribute this type of hall chair to any one maker in the absence of documentary provenance.
Rockbeare Manor, near Exeter, Devon, was built in c. 1769 for Sir John Duntze, an Exeter woolen merchant and banker, MP for Tiverton from 1768 to 1795, and baronet from 1774. He added to the house with the construction of a new dining room in 1769. In 1815, the house was purchased by Thomas Porter, who made further alterations in 1820, adding an upper storey. In 1859, Rockbeare Manor was sold to William Nation; the estate then passed through inheritance to Colonel Spencer Follett, who employed the architect Percy Morley Horder to renovate the mansion and grounds. The mansion was the subject of two Country Life articles in 1930 (C. Hussey, 'Rockbeare Manor I and II', Country Life, 19 April 1930, pp. 570-576 and 3 May 1930, pp. 642-648).
Marks, knocks, scratches, abrasions consistent with age and use,
Some chairs with later supporting blocks to the undersides, this with some woodworm holes
Overall the chairs appear stable
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