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The Theodore Watts-Dunton Folding Press Bed

possibly Thomas Keynes

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1896 - circa 1898

Materials

Carved mahogany, oil paint

Measurements

264 x 154 x 63 cm

Place of origin

England.

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Collection

Wightwick Manor, West Midlands

NT 1288301.1

Summary

A carved mahogany press bed inset with painted panels, British, circa 1896-1898, the carving possibly by Thomas Keynes, the painted panels by Henry Treffrey Dunn 91838-1899) after Rossetti, the press with broken pediment, the frieze panel with relief-carved figures in the Renaissance style, the rear wall of the interior of the press inset with four panels with oil-painted figures by Henry Treffrey Dunn inspired by Rossetti works, the panels separated by a line-incised mahogany framework applied at the centre with a carved bust, the fold-down single bed positioned to the right-hand side of the interior, the left being occupied by a small fixed bedside table, the open front being covered with a small curtain, the interiors of the cupboard doors relief-carved with figures, on a plinth base.

Full description

A carved mahogany press bed inset with painted panels, British, circa 1896-1898, the carving possibly by Thomas Keynes, the painted panels by Henry Treffrey Dunn (1838-1899) after Rossetti, the press with broken pediment, the frieze panel with relief-carved figures in the Renaissance style, the rear wall of the interior of the press inset with four panels with oil-painted figural scenes by Henry Treffrey Dunn inspired by Rossetti works, the panels separated by a line-incised mahogany framework applied at the centre with a carved bust, the fold-down single bed positioned to the right-hand side of the interior, the left being occupied by a small fixed bedside table, the open front being covered with a small curtain, the interiors of the cupboard doors relief-carved with figures, on a plinth base. The painted panels inset to the interior of the cupboard are 1288301.2 (top left) - Jane Morris based on Rossetti's 'The Couch'; 1288301.3 (top right) - Jane Morris possibly inspired by 'The Prisoner's Daughter'; 1288301.4 (bottom left) - Jane Morris after 'Reverie'; 1288301.5 (bottom right) - Paolo and Francesca Da Rimini. Theodore Watts-Dunton (1832-1914) was born in St.Ives. He studied and practiced law but his real passion was literature, he was a published novelist, poet and reviewer and was a known figure in the literary world at the turn of the century. A friend to the pre-raphaelites, he looked after many of their business affairs and for 30 years he cared for the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne following his collapse in 1879, taking him to live with him at 'The Pines' in Putney. Henry Treffrey Dunn (1838-1899) was born in Truro. His father, a tea and spice merchant, found him a job in a bank, but Dunn eventually abandoned this and moved to London to study at Heatherley's art school. In 1867 he became Rossetti's studio assistant, gradually becoming his unofficial secretary, manager of his household and companion between then and 1881. His duties included painting and drawing to assist the production of finished pictures and making replicas, obtaining materials, props, models etc. Rossetti wrote "You are the best of fellows and my guardian angel." After Rossetti's death in 1882 Dunn completed some unfinished Rossetti works and helped William Michael Rossetti clear the house. He tried unsuccessfully to pursue a career as an independent artist, renting his own studio and exhibiting. He began drinking heavily, damaging his health. By 1892 he was reduced to painting furniture in a second-hand shop in the Kings Road. In the mid 1890s, penniless and ill, he sought help from Rossetti's friend Theodore Watts-Dunton at 2 The Pines, Putney. Watts-Dunton, who had already given a home to the poet Swinburne, provided Dunn with a studio and materials at The Pines and lodgings nearby. He spent the remainder of his life painting, often subjects suggested by Watts-Dunton. (adapted from author's unpublished property catalogue, Stephen Ponder, Wightwick Manor, circa 1995)

Provenance

Theodore Watts-Dunton, Bequeathed to Clara, wife of Theodore Watts-Dunton, then sold Sotheby & Co., New Bond Street, London, Wednesday, 22nd March 1939, lot 79, 'Catalogue of Artistic & Literary Property connected with Rossetti, Swinurne Ford Maddox Brown, etc. removed from "The Pines", 11 Putney Hill (The home of A.C.Swinburne and Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton) / Sold by order of the trustees of the will of Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton (decd.) / Consequent on the death of Clara, Mrs. Watts-Dunton...', p.20 - 'A FOLDING BED, contained in a mahogany cupboard of classical design, with panels carved with figure subjects. The headboard is divided to form four panels, painted by Treffry Dunn after Rossetti, 8ft. 8in, 4 ft. 11in. wide' Purchased at Sotheby & Co. sale by Frank Tilley Purchased from Frank Tilly for £4 by Geoffrey Mander, April 1939 Presented to the National Trust by Geoffrey Mander, 31st July 1939 In 1937 Sir Geoffrey Mander and his wife Rosalie gifted Wightwick Manor, its contents and gardens to the National Trust. Sir Geoffrey and his family continued to occupy and manage Wightwick adding to the collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Sir Geoffrey died in 1962 but Lady Mander continued to live at Wightwick until her death in 1988. The details of this press bed were added to the Wightwick Manor 1937 inventory list in 1939.

Marks and inscriptions

BALDWIN (hinge incised)

Makers and roles

possibly Thomas Keynes, wood carver Henry Treffry Dunn (Truro 1838 - 1899), artist

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