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A pair of early George III gilt-lacquered brass-mounted mahogany wine coolers on stands

Sobre el objeto

A pair of early George III gilt-lacquered brass-mounted mahogany wine coolers on stands\nAlmost certainly by Samuel Norman, circa 1763-1766, Each of oval form, the coopered bodies with gadrooned rims and two brass bands with cabochon-cast edges, the ends mounted with ram masks with foliate and shell-cast handles, the sides of the coolers further mounted with winged satyr masks, the stands with fluted friezes with interlaced cabochon and egg-and-dart mouldings on bacchic mask headed cabriole legs, supporting bell-flower pendants with foliate mouldings to the sides on acanthus wrapped hoof feet, the liners later\n65cm. high, 72cm. wide, 50cm. deep; 2ft. 1½in., 2ft 4¼in., 1ft. 7¼in.


This spectacular pair of gilt-adorned mahogany wine-coolers is the most elaborate model of a group attributed to Samuel Norman of King Street, Soho. The only other recorded example of this exact design is that formerly in the collection of H.H. Mulliner and illustrated in Y. Hackenbroch, English Furniture in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, London, 1958, pl. 28. fig. 47. It is no surprise given the wealth and taste of their original owner, Sir Lawrence Dundas, who commissioned these for his London house, 19 Arlington Street, that these should be amongst the richest of the group and the ram masks supporting the handles to the ends reflect the influence of his architect Robert Adam and indeed appear in many of Adam's designs and on a table supplied to Sir Lawrence and illustrated in Eileen Harris, The Furniture of Robert Adam, London, 1963, pl. 8.

19 Arlington Street and Sir Lawrence Dundas

19 Arlington Street, situated just off Piccadilly was originally built for Lord Carteret by an unknown architect in 1739 on the site of an earlier house which Carteret had occupied from 1714 to 1731. Carteret was a strong supporter of the Protestant succession and had an extensive career as a diplomat and politician. He succeeded to the title of the Earl of Granville following his mother's death in 1744, resigning from cabinet the same year in the midst of some disfavour. Upon his death in 1763, his financial affairs being somewhat muddled, the house was purchased by Sir Lawrence Dundas.

Described in later life by James Boswell as a 'comely jovial Scottish gentleman of good address but not bright parts', Dundas (1712-1781) was born to the impoverished younger branch of an old Scottish Family, his father keeping a woollen-drapers shop in Edinburgh. He became a brilliant entrepreneur, his fortune being founded on various government appointments including the 'Commissary of Forage' under the Duke of Cumberland during the Jacobite revolution of 1745, and as a supplier to the Royal Train of Artillery in Flanders during the Seven years War. During this time he was reputed to have amassed a fortune of some six hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand pounds. This considerable fortune led to him being referred to as 'The Nabob of the North', an allusion to his wealthy contemporaries who acquired vast fortunes as governors of the East India Company. His personal wealth was further augmented by his highly successful speculations in Government stock and in the East India Company and also as a major financier of the Forth and Clyde Canal. This enabled Dundas to purchase several estates worthy of his status including Kerse in Scotland in 1759, Moor Park, Hertfordshire and Aske, Yorkshire both in 1763. Whilst Sir Lawrence commissioned John Carr of York to undertake the alterations at  Aske, he turned to Robert Adam to update both Moor Park and 19 Arlington Street. At Arlington Street, as with the other houses, the majority of the work was undertaken on the interiors and furnishings as was the passion of Sir Lawrence and his wife Margaret Bruce of Kennet whom he maried in 1738, and upon whose taste he heavily relied. Adam was given a very free range for the changes and furnishing that were undertaken at Arlington Street as is apparent by his broad range of designs. The Dundas', armed with Adam's work, commissioned many of the most important cabinet-makers of the day. The list of those employed is a testament to the importance of Sir Lawrence and his wife as patrons in the 1760s, having commissioned Samuel Norman, Chippendale and Rannie, Vile and Cobb, Mayhew and Ince, France and Bradburn, James Lawson and Pierre Langlois. In furnishing his residences in the second half of the 1760s, Dundas spent an incredible £10,500 on paying these cabinet-makers, Samuel Norman being paid £2,410 alone.  The result of this work clearly impressed Dundas' contemporaries, Lady Shelburne noting following her visit in 1768, 'I had vast pleasure in seeing a house which I had so much admired, and improved as much as possible. The apartment for company is up one pair of stairs, the Great Room is now hung with a red damask, and with a few large capital pictures, with very noble glasses between the piers, and Gilt chairs'.

The current pair of coolers, appear to have been supplied to Sir Lawrence by Samuel Norman between 1763-6 based on Dundas' purchase of the house, his account books and Norman's demise as outlined below. Indeed in 1763 Mrs James Harris wrote to her son, the 1st Earl of Malmesbury, noting 'I have spent the whole morning partly with Norman at Whitehall and partly at Norman's warehouse and have given (what are for us I think) large orders, though not so great as those of Sir Lawrence Dundas, who has ordered furniture from Norman's to the amount of ten thousand', (A. Coleridge, 'Sir Lawrence Dundas and Chippendale', Apollo, September 1967, p.191). Whilst we know that Sir Lawrence had not spent quite so much with Norman, it does serve as an illustration that he had clearly already placed substantial commissions by this time. The account books discovered Aske hall reveal the coolers amongst the latter items commissioned that were destined for Arlington Street, these were listed as; '2 neat mahogany oval cisterns wt. Rich brass ornaments & Stands to ditto complete'. These were listed as being supplied for the 'Drawing Room, Ground Floor' but by the 1768 inventory of 19 Arlington Street  were recorded in the Dining Room as would be expected.

Samuel Norman

Samuel Norman appears to have had a meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the mid-eighteenth century cabinet-making world and unfortunately and equally rapid demise. Following his apprenticeship to Thomas Woodin from 1746-1753, he began his own business and shortly thereafter, most likely through the influence of his renowned uncle and fellow cabinet-maker, William Hallett, entered into partnership with James Whittle in 1755, a partnership enabled by the death of Whittle's son Thomas and assisted by Norman's marriage to Whittle's daughter Ann in April that year. The partnership of Whittle and Norman flourished and they were patronised by the Duke of Bedford, the Earl of Egremont and the Earl of Holderness. Following Whittle's death in 1759, Norman inherited half the stock of goods in trade of his father-in-law allowing him full control of the business. Continued patronage from established clients assisted Norman's business as did his purchase of Paul Saunders's Royal Tapestry Manufactory in Soho in June 1760. In 1762 he was honoured with a royal appointment as 'Master Carver in Wood' to the office of Works and in 1763 was described as 'Sculptor and Carver to their majesties; and surveyor of the curious carvings in Windsor Castle'.

Despite these accolades and indeed work at the palaces and for other important patrons it appears he supplied no further furniture of any merit after 1766 and was declared bankrupt by 1767.

Other related wine coolers of simpler design include:

one with lion mask ends but lacking the masks to the sides and knees, originally supplied to Robert, 4th Earl of Holderness for Hornby Castle, Yorkshire and now in the Gerstenfeld Collection and illustrated in E. Lennox-Boyd (Ed.), Masterpieces of English Furniture, The Gerstenfeld Collection, London 1998, p.225, cat. no. 66.

one with very similar decoration although with lion mask handles to the ends formerly in the collection of Miss Tyndall and illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1954, rev.ed., vol. III, p. 373, fig. 5.

one lacking masks to the ends but with similar handles and stand formerly with Hotspur Ltd., London and illustrated in R. Butler and G. Walkling, Wine Antiques, Woodbridge, 1987, pl. 23.

one of matching design but with lion mask end mounts was sold, The Property of a Gentleman, Christie's London, 10 July 2003, lot 10 (£341,250).

one identical to the previous example was sold Sotheby's London, 8 July 1994, lot 78.

one with similar knee mounts but no masks to the sides or ends, sold, Christie's London, 23 June 1983, lot 52.

one from the Earl Iveagh, Elvedon Hall, Norfolk, sold Christie's house sale, 21-24 May 1984, lot 497.


'In The Public Eye', The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 18 May - 1st August 1999.


65cm. high, 72cm. wide, 50cm. deep; 2ft. 1½in., 2ft 4¼in., 1ft. 7¼in.


Recorded in the 1768 inventory in the dining-room of 19 Arlington Street; '2 cisterns with brass Loops'.

Anthony Coleridge, 'Sir Lawrence Dundas and Chippendale', Apollo, September 1967, pp. 194-195.


Supplied to Sir Lawrence Dundas for 19 Arlington Street, London.

Thence by descent until sold, The Property of the Most Honourable The Marquess of Zetland, P.C., Christie's London, 26 April 1934, lot 76, to M. Harris, £294.

*Tenga en cuenta que el precio no se recalcula al valor actual, es el precio final real en el momento que fue vendido.

*Tenga en cuenta que el precio no se recalcula al valor actual, es el precio final real en el momento que fue vendido.