A Group of Amboyna Tables all attributed to Morel and Seddon and Related to Pieces Supplied by the Firm to George IV at Windsor Castle

1st July 2022

We are delighted to be able to offer four pieces of furniture attributed to Morel and Seddon, one of the most important makers of the 19th century. Three of these pieces are library or writing tables and the fourth is a console table and they are all principally veneered with amboyna-an extremely exotic and expensive timber at the time and rarely used as the primary veneer on pieces of this size.

Morel and Seddon/Seddon and Sons

George Seddon, 1796-1857, was the grandson of George Seddon of Aldersgate Street (the largest furniture manufacturer of the 18th century). Nicholas Morel was of French extraction and a protégé of the architect Henry Holland and the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre. Under Holland’s direction he worked on the decoration of Carlton House, official London residence of the Prince of Wales. In 1827 Seddon and Morel formed a partnership to undertake the refurbishment of Windsor Castle for King George IV, with an enormous budget at that time of £200,000. Numerous examples of furniture in this characteristic combination of amboyna and gilt are illustrated by Hugh Roberts inFor the King’sPleasure,The Furnishing and Decoration of George IV’s Apartments at Windsor Castle, London 2001. This commission inevitably encouraged other patrons, from the Marquess of Stafford to Liverpool Town Council and the firm continued successfully until Seddon devoted himself to painting. He trained in Paris in 1841 and then travelled widely in Egypt and the Holy Land with the Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt. He had a picture accepted by the Royal Academy in 1852.

D) The console table

This fine amboyna, rosewood and parcel gilt console table bears all the hallmarks of Morel and Seddon’s work at Windsor. Fine proportions, exceptional veneers and a restrained classical aesthetic all combined in a piece of furniture fit for the grandest of rooms. The piece is relatively shallow at 14 inches in depth and the mirrored back is very useful for displaying a large vase or sculpture and giving the impression that the room continues on through the wall to which the table is attached.

The Library Tables

These three tables share the same combination of parcel gilding and amboyna as the console table and all have parallels with pieces in the Royal Collection to this day.

Provenance

The Duke of Rutland, St Katherine’s, Regents Park. Sold Knight Frank and Rutley, 10th of January 1913, lot 7

This first example is nearly identical to a piece supplied by Morel and Seddon which is now located in the entrance hall of Buckingham Palace. What makes our piece particularly special is that an inscription in one of the drawers of the table records that it was purchased from the Duke of Rutland’s sale 10/1/1913. We have been able to trace the sale and have found that the piece, erroneously described as burr maple, was sold from the Duke’s London house in Regents Park at this date. It is quite possible that the table was originally supplied to the Duke’s country home Belvoir Castle and research is ongoing.

The second of this group of table is of near identical form as the first but with slightly fewer gilded highlights.


It is interesting to note that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been filmed behind the Buckingham Palace table that shares this design when delivering her annual Christmas message in the past. This is a very versatile piece of furniture that could be used as a sofa table, library table, writing table or simply a side table if required. The richly figured amboyna is light in colour and would therefore fit equally well into both traditional and more contemporary interiors.

B illustrated in the catalogue) final table from this exceptional group differs from the others in the shaping of the feet which, in this piece, are elongated scrolls rather than bun feet. In all other respects it is closest to the first example-that made for the Duke of Rutland-as it has more gilded areas than our second example.

To be able to offer one of these tables for sale would be very satisfying but to be able to offer this group is a privilege. It is a rare opportunity to compare examples of a well-known firm’s output and we are delighted that our clients now have the chance to purchase pieces that relate to probably the most important furniture commission of the early 19th century.

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