A George III mahogany serving table by Thomas Chippendale.
The side table was originally en suite with a pair of pedestal urns, now in a private collection in New York, which conform in design to a suite of table and pedestal urns supplied by Chippendale to Paxton House, Berwickshire, Scotland, circa 1775. The fact that this table fitted into the curved alcove at Rockbeare Manor can be seen as proof that it was made for the space. Rockbeare Manor is therefore a newly discovered Chippendale commission.
SIR JOHN DUNTZE OF ROCKBEARE MANOR, DEVON
John Duntze was the son of an immigrant merchant from Bremen who settled in Exeter, Devon, England. The Duntze family owned Rockbeare Manor from the middle of the 18th century and remodelled the house to its present form, apart from the second storey, which was added by the next owner in the 1820s. Sir John Duntze ran a highly successful business as a clothier and general merchant in Exeter. He became one of the founding partners of the Exeter bank Duntze-Sanders-Hamilton & Co., and was partner in the London bank Halliday-Duntze-Pread & Co. until the 1780s. He also served as member of Parliament for Tiverton from 1768 to 1795.
In 1769 Duntze extended Rockbeare by adding a dining room wing to the house. The Paxton dining room suite was delivered circa 1775, so the Rockbeare dining room suite fits into this timeframe perfectly. Sir John would have been in contact with fellow MPs in London who had commissioned furniture from Chippendale. It is also possible that he was aware of the workmanship of the Chippendale firm at Saltram House, near Plymouth, which is only a few miles away from Rockbeare. Coincidentally, the dining room suite at Saltram also features a curved serving table with accompanying pedestal urns.
Sir John Duntze sold Rockbeare Manor in 1815 to Thomas Porter, who in turn sold it to William Nation in 1859. Rockbeare passed by descent to Colonel Spencer Follett and is still in private ownership today. The Rockbeare suite remained in the house until only recently.
Research in the Duntze papers has not revealed any Chippendale invoices or any bank records for Sir John. These records may still be found at some stage in the future.
Christopher Hussey, ‘Rockbeare Manor – I’, Country Life, 19 April 1930, pp. 570–76.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. II, p. 193.
Christopher Hussey, ‘Rockbeare Manor – II, Devonshire’, Country Life, 3 May 1930, p. 643, illus. 2–3.
Sir John Duntze, Rockbeare Manor, Devon, England.
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