A George III giltwood side table with scagliola top.
Note: The table retains the original scagliola top. The hoof feet are supported by later blocks. The table has been re-gilded.
The manor of Abington Park, Northamptonshire, England, is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. William Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth Bernard, née Hall, lived in the manor in the 17th century. She was buried in the adjacent church of St. Peter and St. Paul in 1670, shortly after the Thursby family moved in. It was to be their home from 1669 until 1841.
John Harvey Thursby enlarged the manor house in the mid 18th century. The actor David Garrick befriended John Harvey’s daughter Anne in the later part of the 18th century, and was a frequent visitor. Garrick planted a mulberry tree at Abington to commemorate his and Anne’s friendship in 1778, around the time when the table was commissioned.
John Harvey Thursby held the rank of lieutenant in the Northampton Cavalry and became High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1803. His social position and his contacts with important and influential people of the time, such as Garrick and Sir Joshua Reynolds, would have kept him in touch with the latest fashions. This beautiful scagliola table would have been a perfect way for Thursby to show his up-to-date good taste.
The house, together with its contents, which included the table and a portrait of Thursby by Reynolds, passed down to the eldest son, also called John Harvey. This tradition of calling the eldest son John Harvey carried on for centuries, and it was a later John Harvey Thursby who eventually sold the table in 1968 after it had been in the family for almost 200 years.
The Gentleman’s Magazine, September 1838, pp. 328–9.
Sotheby & Co., ‘Fine English Furniture, Tapestries and Clocks, Embossed Pictures and Rugs and Carpets’, sale catalogue, London, 26 January 1968, pp. 38-9, lot 103 (£3,300).
Frank Davis, ‘Winged Mercury in Roman Britain’, Country Life, 29 February 1968, p. 472, figs 1 & 2.
Probably commissioned by John Harvey Thursby of Abington Park, Northamptonshire, England.
By descent in the Thursby family until 1968.
Frank Partridge & Sons Ltd., London, England.
Judge Irwin Untermyer, New York, USA.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.
Private collection, Ireland.
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