11595

AN UNUSUAL CARVED WALNUT DAYBED RELATED TO A DESIGN BY THOMAS HOPE

Probably Low Counties. First Quarter of the Nineteenth Century.

Measurements

Height: 27 3/4" (70.5 cm) Length: 72" (183 cm) Depth: 26 3/4" (68 cm) Seat height: 14" (35.6 cm).

Research
Of walnut. The bed terminating in two carved swans flanking a conforming caned headrest, One crossbar that retains caning to headrest is an old replacement; the foot of the bed decorated by two carved figures of greyhounds on each side, all above a fluted frieze, the whole raised on eight tapering fluted legs, each headed with a square capital and terminating in a brass caster. Slots at head and bottom of seat have very old wood infills. This may suggest that a design reconfiguration occurred early on in this piece’s history. Old repairs to underside of frame. Old re-caning. Upholstered circa 40 years ago in an ochre leather, with cylindrical ochre leather pillow.

Provenance:
A Brussels Collection.

The present daybed is of an unusual design inspired by the Empire taste, combining classical sophistication with a non-urban charm. It recently left a Belgian collection and it is possible that it was made in that region.

The head of the bed is formed by two carved swans, with the caned headrest conforming to their curving necks. The swan is symbol of love and seduction much employed in the furniture of the Empire period. As an emblem adopted by the Empress Josephine, it formed the armrests of chairs and was incorporated into the ends of bedframes, in the same manner as the present piece.

Interestingly, the foot of the day bed is flanked by two recumbent greyhounds, typically symbolic of high social status. Egyptians kept greyhounds for hunting and companionship, and from the Middle Ages onward they became associated with the nobility; in the 11th century the English king Canute “enacted the first laws that restricted the ownership of Greyhounds to the aristocracy.”1  They also feature in Gothic sarcophagi as a symbol of fidelity, its most celebrated quality, lying at the head or foot of the deceased’s stone effigy, particularly in the tombs of chivalric knights who also valued that “essential virtue.”2 The tomb of Sir Thomas Cave and his wife in St. Nicholas’s at Stratford on Avon offers a fine example of a greyhound at the foot of his master (figure 1).

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.