Our adventure through the ABCs of the decorative arts continues today with a name familiar to anyone in antiques: Hotspur Antiques. Hotspur was established in 1924 by Frederick Kern. A history lover, Kern named the business after the character in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV. The family run business saw three generations of highly esteemed directors, culminating with a publication entitled Hotspur: Eighty Years of Dealing in 2004. The business closed in 2008 but the memory of the firm and the exceptional pieces that passed through its hands lives on today.
We have been delighted to work with pieces in our collection that previously passed through Hotspur, and today we are sharing details of several of these treasures.
This exceptional George III marquetry commode attributed to Ince & Mayhew was the subject of a recent blog post (read about it here). It is of particular note for today’s topic as a detail of the top featured on the cover of the aforementioned publication by Hotspur in 2004.
Shown above is a very fine George III mahogany serpentine chest on chest with a cornice featuring a beautiful carved moulding and a blind fretwork freize. The pierced foliate and flowerhead cast gilt handles and escutcheons are original. This piece was in Hotspur’s collection in 1981.
This very rare and important George I gilt gesso and black and gilt japanned side table was once in the collection at Hotspur. The top and drawer fronts and sides are decorated with panels of black japanned working with gilt chinoiseries. This exceptional table with its striking combination of gilt-gesso and japanned decoration bears a great similarity to one at Longford Castle, Wiltshire which was probably supplied for Sir Jacob de Bouverie (created 1st Viscount Folkestone in 1747) when he succeeded his brother in 1736.
Hotspur was known for selecting pieces with particularly fine colour and patina. The above satinwood console table, which used to be in its collection, is a perfect example. The satinwood, kingwood cross-banded, and polychrome decorated console table is a lovely colour and is beautifully decorated throughout with scrolling foliage and flowers.
Formely in the Hotspur collection, this exceptional Queen Anne walnut double-backed loveseat is of rare small scale. The upholstered back and seats stand on carved cabriole legs terminating in pad feet, and all are joined by a wonderful turned stretcher of elaborate form with the back legs gracefully outswept.
This William and Mary walnut half-round card table came from the Percival Griffiths Collection and later passed through the collection of Hotspur. It features a double serpentine shaped apron raised on eight tapered octagonal legs.
And finally, our last piece today that was previously in the Hotspur collection is this stunning Queen Anne gilt gesso lowboy. This superb piece of furniture is a rare survivor of carved gilt gesso furniture from the first part of the 18th century.