Extremely Rare Regency Penwork Bookcase with Designs by Thomas Hope
Extremely Rare Regency Penwork Bookcase with Designs by Thomas Hope

Extremely Rare Regency Penwork Bookcase with Designs by Thomas Hope

c. 1820 England

Offered by Freshfords Fine Antiques

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This small open sided bookcase is profusely decorated with penwork ornamentation derived from designs and drawings in Thomas Hope’s ‘Costume of the Ancients’ 1809. The size and scale of the bookcase with its double sided bookshelves is most unusual and the quality and condition of the decoration combine to make it a very rare piece.


LITERATURE
Thomas Hope ‘Costume of the Ancients’ Published 1809 and 1812
‘Thomas Hope’s Costume of the Ancients -The Source for a Penwork Bookcase’ by Noel Riley
(From the upcoming Thomas Hope Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum) see second page
‘Hope for the Best’ – World of Interiors – June 2006 pp 70 -72

PENWORK
The Classic definition of Penwork as stated in the Dictionary of Decorative Arts reads as “Penwork: A type of decoration applied to Japanned furniture in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, mainly in England. Furniture to be treated in this way was first Japanned black, then patterns were painted on in white Japan and finally the details and shading were executed in black India ink with a fine quill pen. The effect is delicate and lacy, rather like an etching in reverse, with white motifs on a black ground”

‘Thomas Hope’s Costume of the Ancients -The Source for a Penwork Bookcase’ - by Noel Riley

The double-sided square bookcase of Fig 1 is resplendent with images taken from Costume of the Ancients. The top shows the sturdy-legged ‘Victorious warrior descended from his car’ looking somewhat less bellicose without his spear or chariot, and with a single horse instead of the three in the original (Fig 1). The images on the vertical panels both appear to be composites. The bacchante on one side is substantially the figure from Plate 61 (1809 edition) but certain details of her dress and posture have been borrowed from Plate 30, while the vase she is holding is decorated more like the one shown in Plate 47 (Figs 2, 3 and 4).

The opposite side shows a male figure enveloped in a cloak, with a laurel wreath on his head. He proves to be a ‘Grecian Youth crowned at the Games’ (Fig 5). This image, Plate 99 in the 1812 edition, is not shown in the 1809 edition. On the bookcase he appears with a lengthened staff and he carries a bowl in his right hand. The leaf borders for these two bookcase panels, and the scrolling acanthus and florets on the top, may well have been adapted from Ackermann’s Selection of Ornaments (1817), another popular and inexpensive source of designs used by both amateur and professional artists.
Dimensions
Height 90.00 cm (35.43 inches)
Width 55.00 cm (21.65 inches)
Depth 53.00 cm (20.87 inches)
Stock Code
FAF222
Freshfords Fine Antiques

Freshfords Fine Antiques
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