'The Qiangjin Lacquer Alter Table'
An incised red lacquer alter table or side table, Chinese, Qianlong Period, circa 1740-1750. With a long rectangular top and moulded inverted frieze with carved and pierced fretted apron incorporating dragon designs and raised on square section legs and scroll feet. Decorated overall in red qiangjin lacquer floral designs, the top with water fowl, swallows, lilies and water reeds. Label underneath 'Spink and Son'.
This table and a set of four Chinese chairs (NT514537) were purchased by Lord Fairhaven from Spink & Son Ltd. King Street, St James' London SW1 in January 1959. A letter from Spink dated 9th February 1959 reads 'We have pleasure in sending herewith the oblong lacquer table, en-suite with the four armchairs recently purchased by your Lordship and would thank you for deciding to acquire this table with the four chairs for a lump sum of £2,000.' Another letter received from Carl Winter MA, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge on 5th February 1959: 'All I have been able to find out from Sotheby's is that the four 18th century Chinese vermillion lacquer armchairs were sold by them as lot 175 in their sale on the 12 December 1958. I see from our priced catalogue that this lot was bought by Spink for £400. Lot 174 was a pair of similar cabinets and lot 176 a similar table...lot 176 was bought by Spink for £300. The items were part of a consignment sent for sale by a dealer, whose name is not disclosed, but who apparently had the furniture sent from China. It appears not to have been seen by or known to anybody in England before the sale. Hence the proper retail market value of such a rare thing is rather difficult to assess. Doubtless if they had come from a famous English collection and not been sold at an end of season auction, they might well have fetched a great deal more.' It is unclear whether Lord Fairhaven was happy with the purchase price from Spink but he obviously enquired via a third party. The profit Spink added to the auction hammer price was quite considerable and it should be noted that the table and the chairs appear to be in original condition and are unlikely to have undergone any significant repair or restoration, particularly in the short time from purchase to delivery to Anglesey Abbey. Furniture of this period and type is rare, the only other comparable example is a set of chairs which were included in the 2013 Spring selling catalogue for Mallett & Son, London & New York (pp.126-129) and bear striking resemblance to the Anglesey chairs. The author notes that this pattern of chair has been traditionally dated to the Wanli period (1573–1620) in the Ming Dynasty. However recent research now dates them to the Qing Dynasty, during the middle years of the 18th century, as discussed by Michel Beurdeley ‘Chinese Furniture’ Tokyo 1979. The new attribution can also be applied to the table which may have been made by the same Chinese workshop. (James Weedon, February 2020)
Sold Sotheby's December 1958 lot 176, purchased by Spink & Son Ltd. Purchased by Lord Fairhaven from Spink in January 1959. Bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents in 1966.
Marks and inscriptions
Under the top: label - Spink & Son
Beurdeley, Michel 'Chinese Furniture' Tokyo, New York, San Francisco (1979) Mallett & Son, London & New York 'Spring, 2013' catalogue