PAIR OF GILT BRONZE MOUNTED TORTOISHELL CABINETS ON STANDS
FLANDERS CIRCA 1650
The stands 19th century
Measurements: Height 53 ½” (136cm) width 41” (104cm) 13 ¼” (34cm)
The Welby family of Harlaxton Manor and Denton Manor and by descent at Denton until 1939, thence by descent
Each with a rectangular top above an edge with pierced clasps, with an arrangement of eight drawers with ripple moulded borders surrounding an architectural façade centred by a balustrade gallied frieze drawer, above a removable niche containing a statue concealing three further drawers, flanked by two Corinthian columns. The ebonised stands 19th century.
This pair of cabinets are shown in the famous painting, The House Builders by Frank Dicksee P.R.A. 1853-1938, Depicting Sir William Welby-Gregory, 4th Baronet and his wife Victoria, only daughter of the Earl of Wharncliffe. Identifiable with their ebony ripple moulding, tortoiseshell panels and brass handles, one of the cabinets is visible behind Lady Victoria as the couple are shown pouring over Sir Arthur Bloomfield’s model and drawings for Denton Manor. When the painting was exhibited the house had been in progress for a year and it would be completed four years later.
The dating of the painting before the construction of Denton suggests that these cabinets had been in Harlaxton Manor as the reconstruction of Sir William’s family seat was initiated primarily to provide a home for the pictures, furniture and other works of art inherited from his father’s cousin, Gregory Gregory of Harlaxton. The painting also indicates that these Flemish cabinets were very much in the personal taste of Lady Victoria, who belonged to the group known as ‘The Souls’ an aristocratic coterie devoted to intellectual and artistic pursuits and disdainful of the more worldly pleasures indulged in by the Prince of Wales Marlborough House set. Lady Victoria’s dress, the furniture and decorative arts in the painting, including these cabinets appeal to the cultured aesthetic style pre-eminent among the Welbys’ social set.