Today we are highlighting one of our recent acquisitions: a very fine pair of George III giltwood armchairs in the manner of Thomas Chippendale. In the neo-classical style, the chairs each feature giltwood show frames and upholstered shield-shaped backs and rounded seats with outswept and padded arms. The chairs stand on tapered fluted legs surmounted by carved patera. The pair is now upholstered in silk damask.
The chairs were previously in the collection of the Marquess of Crewe at Crewe House, Curzon Street, London–just a short distance from our gallery in St. James’s.
The Marquess of Crewe
Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st of Earl of Crewe (1858-1945) was granted the title of Marquess of Crewe in 1911. He was the only son of Richard Monckton Milnes, a noted Victorian literary personage.
Throughout Crewe’s sixty years in politics, he served at various times as Viceroy of Ireland, Leader of the Liberal peers in the House of Lords, Secretary of State for India, Lord President of the Board of Education, Minister for War, Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Privy Seal, and Ambassador to France.
Crewe married Sibyl Marcia Graham in 1880 and had four children together. Sibyl sadly died young of scarlet fever, and Crewe went on to marry again in 1899 to Lady Margaret Etienne Hannah Primrose, the daughter of the 5th Earl of Rosebery. In the same year he acquired Crewe House in London, and he had two further children.
Originally designed by Edward Shepherd (1692-1747) in the 1730s, Crewe House is a magnificent mansion on Curzon Street in Mayfair. The property became known as Crewe House in 1899 when it was purchased by the Marquess of Crewe from the Wharncliffe family. Once the location of many grand parties, including one at which Winston Churchill met his future wife, Clementine Hozier, the Marquess of Crewe later offered Crewe House to the disposal of the Government for war purposes, and it soon became the headquarters for Lord Northcliffe’s Department of Propaganda. Crewe House is still standing today and serves as an embassy. It is a rare survival of a detached mansion in its own grounds in the heart of London.
The Marquess of Crewe commissioned Hanslip Fletcher (1874-1955) to create drawings of Crewe House in the 1930s, one of the Drawing Room and another of the front façade. Fletcher was a watercolour painter and etcher of architectural subjects who specialized in scenes of London. It is especially pleasing that this superb pair of giltwood chairs are clearly depicted in the sketch of the drawing room.