Settee, Regency Egyptian Revival style, ebonised and gilt beech/ bronze and gilt brass mounts/ reproduction silk damask and trimmings, designed by Thomas Hope, maker unknown, England, c. 1802
Armchairs (pair) and settee, Regency Egyptian Revival style, ebonised and gilt beech and oak, original and reproduction bronze and gilt brass mounts, reproduction silk damask and trimmings, designed by Thomas Hope (1769-1831), unknown maker, England, around 1802
This pair of armchairs and settee in the Egyptian Revival style were designed by the English Regency designer, Thomas Hope, as part of the furnishings for the Egyptian room of his grand Robert Adam-designed residence in Duchess Street, London. The house was created as a showpiece for Hope's collection of antiquities, and featured themed rooms with suites of furniture designed by Hope to provide a suitable background for his collection of classical and neoclassical statuary and objets d'art. His Egyptian room was located on the first floor, which was intended to be opened 'museum-like' to the public.
Thomas Hope was born in Amsterdam in 1769 into a wealthy Dutch banking family of Scottish descent. He settled in England around 1796 after an exhaustive eight-year grand tour of the Mediterranean countries, including Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Italy. His work in the Egyptian style has various sources including inspiration from his own travels and publications such as V. Denon's "Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte" of 1802. The entire suite and its placement within the Egyptian room is illustrated in a meticulous line drawing in Thomas Hope's "Household Furniture and Interior Decoration" of 1807 (plate VIII), an exceptional publication which established Hope's reputation as a designer of outstanding vision and influential style. The Museum's armchairs and couch form half of the suite of seating furniture originally in the Egyptian room; the other half is presently owned by the Faringdon Collection Trust, Buscot Park, England.
The provenance of the Powerhouse Museum's pieces is interesting. A businessman, Sir Alfred Ashbolt, brought the suite to Australia in 1924 when he returned to Hobart after a term in London as agent-general for Tasmania (1919-1924). The furniture had been sold from the Hope estate to a London antique dealer in 1917. The couch and chairs were sold again at auction in the 1940s by the family of Sir Alfred Ashbolt. From then on, knowledge about their significance and origin appears to have faded until the armchairs were acquired at a Sydney auction by the Powerhouse Museum in 1984, and the couch acquired three years later, in 1987.
Anne Watson, 1984
Refers to objects A10447-1:2 and 87/592
Thomas Hope (1769-1831) born in Holland, the son of a rich banking family of Scottish origin, he settled in England c. 1796 and became an influential patron of the arts, the arbiter elegantuarum of regency England and a highly original furniture designer. He had spent eight years travelling in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean where he acquired a passion for Greek art and architecture, and he continued to travel widely after he settled in England, keeping abreast of artistic developments in Rome and Paris. He began to design furniture in order to provide himself with a suitable background for his collection of classical and neo-classical statuary and objets d'art. His archaeological inclinations led him to copy ancient furniture more closely than had been attempted before. Hope is best known for his work in the Egyptian taste, inspired by V. Denon's "Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte" (1802). Hope published his designs as "Household Furniture and Interior Decoration" (1807)".
The settee was originally designed to be part of the furnishings for the Egyptian Room in Thomas Hope's house in Duchess Street, Portland Place, London. The first floor, which included the Egyptian room, was to be opened "museum-like" to the public. The settee and its placement within the room are illustrated in Thomas Hope's book "Household Furniture and Interior Decoration" (1807) plate VIII.
Clive Wainwright, the furniture curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, argues that the suite was certainly made in London.
The settee was used in the Egyptian Room of Thomas Hope's house in Duchess Street, Portland Place, London. It was illustrated in his (1807) "Household Furniture and Decoration" which was intended not only to record the house, but to instruct and reform.
Following Thomas Hope's death in 1831 the settee was used at the Hope country estate Deepdene in Surrey, England. From 1924 until the early 1940s, the armchairs were used at Lenna, a grand house in Hobart, Tasmania, which was owned by Sir Alfred Ashbolt. Anne Watson,'Recent acquisitions by the Powerhouse Museum', "Australian Antique Collector(No 43), July - Dec 1994, p 26
The settee was designed by Thomas Hope in about 1804 for use in the Egyptian Room of his house in Duchess Street, Portland Place, London. Upon his death in 1831 his son sold the Duchess Street house for demolition and the furniture was moved to the Hope's country estate Deepdene, Surrey, England. The settee remained there until 1917 when the contents were auctioned.
Subsequent research has revealed that the chairs and settee (87/592) were photographed in 1924 in Hobart, Tasmania, in a house called "Lenna". They had been brought to Hobart that year by Sir Alfred Ashbolt (1870-1930), a businessman returning from a term in London (1919-24) as agent-general for Tasmania. As the furniture had been sold from the Hope estate in 1917 to a London antique dealer, it is tempting to speculate that Sir Alfred bought it directly from this source. Following Sir Alfred's death in 1930 his wife and two children moved to Melbourne in the early 1940s, selling much of their furniture, including the Hope pieces, at auction. It is at this stage that we lose track of their ownership. Anne Watson, 'Recent acquisitions by the Powerhouse Museum', "Australian Antique Collector" (No.43), July - Dec 1994, p26.