SECTION OF THE INTENDED LIBRARY AT COBHAM HALL, George Shakespeare
SECTION OF THE INTENDED LIBRARY AT COBHAM HALL, George Shakespeare

SECTION OF THE INTENDED LIBRARY AT COBHAM HALL, George Shakespeare

18th century England

Offered by Charles Plante Fine Arts

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This rare detailed drawing illustrates the skill and dexterity of Shakespeare as an architect-draughtsman, underlining his capabilities as an interior and furniture designer to rival his contemporaries, albeit presumably constrained by the cautious taste of his employer. This reinforces the point that established styles were often employed by even the very rich long after they had ceased to be what might be termed 'fashionable' and that consequently the precise dating of much English furniture must necessarily be a fluid exercise in the absence of such valuable information as we have here of vital importance to the furniture historian.

The re-decoration of Cobham Hall in Kent for the 3rd Earl of Darnley is fraught with problems of documentation. There was a general restoration by Sir William Chambers from c.1767, but it would seem that the Earl's general architectural factotum from 1770 to 1781 was George Shakespeare, a pupil of Isaac Ware, and a skilled interior architect who could cleverly respond to the work of Chambers. His design for the Gilt Hall at Cobham may belong to the period 1771 to 1774 and it is significant that not only does it incorporate Chambersian elements, but so does this 'intended' design for the library. For the 1770s the proposed bookcase is archaic, resembling the Chippendale bookcase in Chambers' design for a study in Pembroke House, Whitehall, c.1760-62.
Ben Weinreb, London
John Cornforth, 'Cobham Hall, Kent II', Country Life, March 3, 1983, illustrating designs from the Cambridge School of Architecture, Cobham portfolio, The Yale Center for British Art.
Dimensions
Height 330.00 mm (12.99 inches)
Width 482.00 mm (18.98 inches)
Medium
Pen and ink with coloured washes
Signed/Inscribed
Inscribed: "Section of the Intended Library at Cobham Hall"
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
50 Gloucester Street
London
SW1V 4EH

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