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Shelves

attributed to William Linnell (1703-1763)

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1758

Materials

Beech, lime, gilding and lacquer

Measurements

188 x 138 x 43 cm

Place of origin

London

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Collection

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

NT 108631

Caption

A stunning piece of John Linnell chinoiserie furniture, decorated in Chinese black and gold lacquered river scenes and buildings.

Summary

A set of black and gilt japanned standing shelves, attributed to William Linnell (1703-1763) & John Linnell (1729-1796) London (carvers, cabinet makers and upholders). Probably commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 5th Baronet (later Lord Scarsdale) circa 1758 for Audley Square, London. With a pagoda open canopy to the top flanked by a pair of umbrella sun shades on naturalistic rock bases. The three shelves of breakfront outline with pierced fretwork galleries and held by trellis work supports raised on square section fret work legs and block feet. The whole decorated with landscape and river scenes, buildings and figures.

Full description

It seems likely that the shelves were commissioned for Lord Curzon's London House at Audley Square. They are similar to a commission by the Duke of Beaufort for a bedroom suite for the Chinese bedroom at Badminton House, South Gloucestershire. Designed and supplied by the workshops of William and John Linnell, circa 1752. This was one of the earliest 'bedroom suites' and included a bed with pagoda canopy with other items of furniture made to match. The V&A collection has the bed, a cabinet from the set (W.55-1952) and two armchairs (W.33 and W.34-1990). During the 1740s and 1750s, Chinese-inspired furniture was very fashionable. Engravers and aspiring cabinetmakers ranging from Battey Langley to Thomas Chippendale included designs for Chinese furniture. Joseph Goupy designed an octagonal House of Confucius at Kew, with walls made up of open lattice work. In 1750, William Halfpenny published New Designs for Chinese Temples, which included this type of Chinese lattice work. Mrs. Montague had a Chinese room at her own house in Hill Street, St. James's, decorated with very similar pieces of furniture by William Linnell. The Duke of Beaufort's furniture, is probably the last examples of English Rococo-influenced Chinoiserie, before William Chambers, who had actually been to China, published his Designs of Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils in 1757. A number of orders for japanned furniture were received by the Linnell workshops between 1749 and William's death in 1763. It seems unlikely though that the japanning was carried out by them. The workshop inventory taken in 1763 does not record the necessary materials, such work was most likely put out to a specialist japanner. James Weedon (May 2018)

Marks and inscriptions

n

Makers and roles

attributed to William Linnell (1703-1763), cabinet maker and furniture designer attributed to John Linnell (London 1729 - 1796), designer

References

Kirkman, Pat 'The careers of William and John Linnell' FHS Hayward and Kirkham, 1980: Helena Hayward and Pat Kirkham. William and John Linnell, eighteenth century London furniture makers. London: Studio Vista in association with Christie’s, 1980. Macquoid, Percy, A history of English furniture /, MCMXXV-MCMXXVIII 1925-28

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