Lot 460: An Important Pair of George II Carved Giltwood Candle Stands Attributable to John Boson or Benjamin Goodison circa 1730


October 25, 2007
New York, NY, US

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Description: the tapered terms surmounted with 'boy heads,' each supporting Ionic capitals with pendant swags of oak leaves and acorns, and with verde antico marble slabs, the shoulders adorned with acanthus leaves above embrocated panels centered by swags of leaves and berries, the bases with rising acanthus plumes, the side similarly embrocated and scrolled with pendant swags of oak leaves and acorns and with rising acanthus plumes, the bases with ribbon-and-rose carved moldings and with four embrocated and acanthus ornamented inverted scrolled feet.
Dimensions: measurements height 50 1/2 in. alternate measurements 128 cm
Notes: COMPARATIVE LITERATURE Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986 John Harris, The Palladian Revival - Lord Burlington, His Villa and Garden at Chiswick, London, 1994 Dr. Clive Edwards et al, British Furniture 1600-2000, London, 2005 The present stands belong to a large group of similarly conceived stands either by or ascribed to Benjamin Goodison (1700-1767) or to John Boson (1705-1743). The former, of the 'Golden Spread Eagle,' Long Acre, London appears to have been apprenticed to the Royal cabinetmaker James Moore, signing various documents for his 'Master, James Moore' including one to the Duchess of Marlborough in 1719 and another in 1720 to the 3rd Earl of Burlington. By 1725 he appears to have set up on his own, succeeding Moore in royal after his death in 1726-27. His name appears with some regularity in the Royal accounts after this date, the Royal Wardrobe being under the control of Sir Thomas Robinson from the late 1730s. Robinson was responsible for authorizing payments to Goodison, who also worked for Frederick, Prince of Wales, and also to William Kent and his circle. This also included John Boson who is primarily thought of as a carver who was described by Vertue as 'a man of great ingenuity and undertook great works in his way for the prime people of quality and made his fortune well in the world.' As with Goodison, from 1732 he regularly carried out work for Frederick, Prince of Wales, particularly at his residence in Leicester Fields, and was responsible for carving the stern board and other ship decoration for his royal barge which was designed by William Kent. The actual relationship between Kent, Goodison and Boson is still unclear, although it is obvious from the documents recorder in the Royal archives that Kent was responsible for the initial designs for much of the furniture supplied both to the Royal Household and Lord Burlington and his circle. From his surviving documented work it is clear that Boson was primarily a carver and joiner by trade, supplying carved woodwork, chimney-pieces and picture frames not only to the Royal Household but to churches including St. George's, Bloomsbury, St. John's Church, Smith Square and Canterbury Cathedral. His aristocratic clients included The Hon. Francis Godolhin, Baylies, Stoke Poges, The Duke of Montrose at Cley, Sir Richard Hoare and Lord Charles Somerset. Perhaps his best recorded commission is for the furniture he supplied to Lady Burlington for Chiswick House in 1735. The account includes 'two Rich Glas frames with folige & other ornements' at a cost of 7 10s each, 'Two mahogany Tables with Tearms foliage & other ornament models for the braswork etc.' 20, and significantly 'two Stands with Boy heads folidge & etc' for 5 each. The account also notes 'Deduct 1: 16: 0 for the Wood Work of the two stands which is to be paid to Mr. Davis the joiner.' All of these pieces are now in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth (See: The Burlington Magazine, October 1985, T. S. Rosoman, 'The decoration and use of the principal apartments of Chiswick House, 1727-1730,' pp. 663-677, figs. 7, the stands, and fig. 30, one of the tables and one of the mirrors. The pair of stands supplied by Boson is remarkably similar in profile to the present lot, differing in details of the carved decoration such as the swags ornamenting the capital which are of laurel leaves, the foliate carving to the shoulders and the sides which are headed by shells. In common with Boson, Goodison's name appears frequently in the accounts of the Royal Household for work supplied to the Royal Palaces of St. James's, Kensington, Kew and Windsor Castle. His work appears to be far more extensive in range, not only supplying pieces in carved giltwood including tables, mirrors and sconces, but also cabinet work in both mahogany and walnut. His aristocratic clients included the 1st and 2nd Viscount Folkestone at Longford Castle, Sarah Duchess of Marlborough, the 1st Earl of Leicester at Holkham and the 4th Duke of Bedford. Goodison's accounts for Frederick Prince of Wales at Hampton Court and Kew Palace include eight 'carved and gilt Term Fashion,' four for each Palace, which are described as '4 Rich Terms with Boys Heads & Ionick Capitals...very Rich' and 4 Rich Terms wth. Warrior Heads and Dorick Caps,' the first costing 42, the second 32.Unfortunately none of these appear to have survived in the Royal Collection, although two closely related sets with the female heads remain in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court Palace. The first is adorned with a necklace and has a less heavily carved term, the other with more heavily draped shoulders (See: Old Furniture, October/ December 1927, F. J. Rutherford, 'The Furnishing of Hampton Court Palace,' pp. 180-187, p. 184). It is interesting to note the similarity of the descriptions of the stands supplied to Lady Burlington and to the Prince of Wales and also the similarities in the design and particularly the style and workmanship of the carving of the former and the stands which still remain in the Royal Collection. This possibly indicates that Boson was responsible for the carving of all the pieces, although Goodison obtained the original commission. The present pair of stands appear to be almost identical to another pair formerly in the collection of Walter P. Chrysler Jr., which were in his sale at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, May 7, 1960 and subsequently sold at Christie's, New York, April 8, 2004, although the 'boys heads' are mounted with wings. Another similar 'winged' pair is in the collection of English Heritage (See: British Furniture 1600-2000, p. 62), and a single example is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum London (See: Desmond-Fitzgerald, Georgian Furniture, no. 28). A pair with female heads, which was formerly in the collection of the Earl of Harrington at Elvaston Castle, was sold at Sotheby's, London, November 8, 1963, lot 166; and was probably commissioned by Lord Harrington for his house at Richmond which was designed by William Kent. The form and design of all these stands conceived in the antique owes much to the published work of the Palladian architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652) which strongly influenced the work of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and his protégé William Kent (See: William Kent, Designs of Inigo Jones, 1727, Isaac Ware, Designs of Inigo Jones and others, circa 1733, and J. Vardy, Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent, 1744). A manuscript design by Vardy for a closely related stand with a male head with pelt-draped shoulders above an embrocated tapered pedestal supported on scrolled legs is illustrated by Peter Ward-Jackson, English Furniture Designs of the 18th century, 1958, fig. 41.
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