12 July 2010
TRACING THE ORIGIN OR PROVENANCE OF Antique Architectrual Features and elements such as antique fireplaces and chimneypieces from thier original location can prove difficult and time consuming, even when investigated by experienced researchers familiar with the tools, sources and routines which are effective.
Not infrequently however we are given or find clues that either identify or point the way to the original installation location as many of these items are relocated at various intervals in their lifetime.
7436 : ONE EXAMPLE OF IRREFUTABLE VISUAL PROOF of provenance is the case of our sold stock no 7436. This antique French Louis XV rococo fireplace mantel was removed during the refurbishement of a large house in Essex. We restored, photographed and put images on the website.
A month or two later we saw an article in a magazine on Sir Julius Wernher who was a major figure in the Kimberely Diamond Fields, one of the Randlords, and a great collector of antiques and works of art. A large part of his collection was displayed in his London Residence at Bath House, 82 Piccadilly in Mayfair..demolished in 1960. A photo in the article showed the Pink Room, and there unmistakeably was the large French Rococo marble fireplace which at the time was displayed in our gallery.
The redecoration of Bath House was carried out for the Wernhers by the renowned French decorator and Architectural Antiques Dealer, Georges Hoentschel. Shortly after the article appeared it was bought from us by a charming enthusiastic couple from Cincinatti, Ohio.... and incurred airmiles.
9061 WAS A LARGE OAK PANELLED ROOM COMPLETE WITH CHIMNEYPIECE which we removed from Kirkdale Manor, North Yorkshire which was built for the Beckett family at the turn of the century.
The vast Carved oak ELizabethan / Jacobean chimneypiece with overmantel and part of the ensuite also Jacobean oak panelling were replicas of the original English Renaissance fireplace mantel and panelling removed from the 16th century Eliazabethan builidng known as The Old Palace, Bromley by Bow in 1894. This was despite great public outcry orchestrated by Charles Robert Ashbee, against the demolition of the venerable Old Palace and the later relocation of the chimneypiece and part of the panelling to the Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington at its opening in 1906.This room was installed in the new museum and can be viewed there to this day. In fact much of the panelling removed by us from Kirkdale proved to be 17th century, therefore probably original to The Elizabethan built Old Palace, which earlier in its life had served as King James 1st Hunting Lodge. This magnificent suite has been installed in a London project....About 300 road miles in all.
4523….THIS VERY FINE GEORGIAN NEO CLASSICAL CHIMNEYPIECE was removed from a house in Scotland but had originally been installed in Bellevue House, County Wicklow, Ireland, which was built by David Latouche in 1754 but allowed to deteriorate to its present ruinous condition.
Latouche was a Hugenot and founder of the merchant bank Touche, now Deloitte Touche. This original provenance was only discovered much later when we saw an entry in the Irish Georgian Society Records published in 1909. See image above. This one does have bountiful Air Miles, it went to Kyoto, Japan.
THE CHATEAU AU MAQUIS DE LA VALETTE CHEMINEE.... A very, very large Louis XV Rococo carved stone antique fireplace mantel on which the particularly grand and noble styling befits the Provenance of this 19th century replica. It was made for the rebuilt chateau of the 17th century original which was destroyed by fire during the revolution.
The original Medieval chateau and domaine of the Marquis de Valette at Pont St. Maxence, 50 miles north of Paris was severley damaged during the 1789 French Revolution . It was rebuilt in the same style in the 19th century – see present day images above and alngside.
8282 : This chimneypiece was removed to safe storage early during World War II when the German Wehrmacht garrisoned troops in the Chateau. It was never reinstalled. The Marquis de Valette accompanied La Fayette on his American adventures during the War of Independence. Truck miles Isle de France - London. Air miles to Florida.
6303 : LORD PEEL'S ANTIQUE CHIMNEYPIECE FROM GROSVENOR SQUARE : Lord Peel, a descndant of Sir Robert Peel the great reformer and a Cabinet Minister had this house redecorated in the late 19th century, probably like Wernher also by Hoentschel the Parisian decorater and supplier. Whoever did this redecoration supplied a pair of very finely carved and substantial English marble antique chimneypiece in the grandest Rococo Revival manner. An irrefutable proof of provenance for this impressive piece with its exquisite oval 'putti' central plaque was discovered by us in a survey of great London houses, showing it in situ in the Rococo decorated drawing room at Lord Peel's town house. Much later this decor was changed and the chimneypiece came on the market.
Here it is shown in our Chapel Gallery displayed against a large panelled oak room in the Queen Anne, Baroque manner with carved panels reminiscent of Grinling Gibbons carving. This rich chimneypiece went to Dallas , Texas....by air.
LEADS TO AN INTERESTING HISTORY OF 7927 were discovered in a March 1960 copy of the now sadly extinct Antiques magazine “The Connoisseur”. The information gleaned from this established at least two, now three relocations. Displayed in a monocolour advertisement on the back cover of the magazine by the renowned fireplace specialists Stanley J Pratt, founded in 1860, was this very chimneypiece exhibited at the time in their gallery at 17 Mount Street, Mayfair.
Over many years successful trading Pratt and various partners and sons had galleries in various locations apart from Mount Street in central London including The Brompton Road and The Old Brompton Road, and to judge by their inspiring publicity they traded prolifically in the best in period chimneypieces and other Architectural elements. Their advertisements progressed and improved in line with the quality and variety of their traded stock. First in black and white and latterly in colour in such magazines as The Connoisseur and over a large part of the early to 2nd half of the 20th century. A worthy role model for aspiring Chimneypiece specialists.
The brief description states that they removed 7927 from premises in Bath, Somerset in South West England, thence to Mount Street, W1 and presumably from there to where it was located when we entered its Pedigree of 270 years , namely Bagnor Hall in Oxfordshire. From our EC2 galleries it winged its way to Tokyo in Japan. Who knows it may one day relocate once more , incurring further transit miles. It, like many others has been treasured and cared for by owners and merchants alike in over a quarter of a millennium promising, like Patek Phillipe, Geneva wrist watch maker ,that you never really own such things, you hold them in trust for subsequent generations. A novel and appealing view....
7927, BAGNOR HALL OXFORDSHIRE : A George II Statuary and Sienna English carved marble antique fireplace mantle originally in a house in Bath, Sommerset, a breakfront shelf with egg & dart & dentil undershelf above high relief carved urn endblocks and central plaque with accanthus floral decoration on the side panels above accanthus leaf corbals and descending floral decoration. Provenance: Bagnor Hall, Oxfordshire. English, circa 1750.