A fine ivory silk and embroidered coverlet, possibly England, Spitalfields, mid-18th century, worked in coloured and metallic threads, the rectangular field with central abundant basket of flowers, including tulips, roses and peonies, flanked by borders with further baskets, swags and entwined exotic flowers, palm trees and sheaves of wheat, with conforming side panels, quilted overall, embellished with tassel trim, bearing a paper label for the PANTECHNICON BELGRAVE SQUARE, stamped THE DUKE OF LEEDS , linen backed, approximately 263 x 260cm
The present coverlet may originate from the renowned silk workshops of Spitalfields. Spitalfields became the centre of the silk industry after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV of France in 1685, which resulted in many French protestants fleeing to escape persecution for their religion, and settling in England. They brought with them the knowledge of their trades, including silk weaving, and set up their workshops in Spitalfields and surrounding areas, soon attracting demand from both London's aristocracy and burgeoning merchant classes for dress and furnishing fabrics.
The present coverlet shares stylistic similarities with the abundant floral designs of the mid-18th century. A circa 1752-3 dress ascribed to the Spitalfields workshops, designed for 'Lady Mayoress' Ann Fanshawe now in the Museum of London features similarly rich brocade in metal thread as well as an arrangement of wheat sheaves.
The clustered arrangement of flowers can also be likened to the designs of Anna-Maria Garthwaite (1690-1763), whose botanical studies in watercolour provided patterns for the most fashionable fabrics. Note for example her watercolour design for a woven silk fabric in the collection of the V&A (Inv. No. 5977:1), which shows similar incorporation of exotic plant and fruit specimens (as with the palm tree-like stems in the present lot).
The Pantechnicon, for which the lot bears a tag, was a large repository for luxury goods in Belgravia, functioning in part as a picture retailer and furniture merchant, and as a storage warehouse. It was mostly destroyed by fire in 1874, just over thirty years after its opening around 1830.
The stamped title on the label may indicate that this coverlet was once property of the Dukes of Leeds, whose seats during the 18th and 19th century included Kiveton Hall until its demolition in 1812, and Hornby Castle. Various sales of property from the Duke of Leeds' collection were held in London at Christie's and Sotheby's during the 1920s and 1930s, and it is possible that the present lot left their possession during this time.