Armchairs (pair) and settee, Regency Egyptian Revival style, ebonised and gilt beech and oak, original and reproduction bronze and gilt brass mounts, reproduction silk damask and trimmings, designed by Thomas Hope (1769-1831), unknown maker, England, around 1802
This pair of armchairs and settee in the Egyptian Revival style were designed by the English Regency designer, Thomas Hope, as part of the furnishings for the Egyptian room of his grand Robert Adam-designed residence in Duchess Street, London. The house was created as a showpiece for Hope's collection of antiquities, and featured themed rooms with suites of furniture designed by Hope to provide a suitable background for his collection of classical and neoclassical statuary and objets d'art. His Egyptian room was located on the first floor, which was intended to be opened 'museum-like' to the public.
Thomas Hope was born in Amsterdam in 1769 into a wealthy Dutch banking family of Scottish descent. He settled in England around 1796 after an exhaustive eight-year grand tour of the Mediterranean countries, including Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Italy. His work in the Egyptian style has various sources including inspiration from his own travels and publications such as V. Denon's "Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte" of 1802. The entire suite and its placement within the Egyptian room is illustrated in a meticulous line drawing in Thomas Hope's "Household Furniture and Interior Decoration" of 1807 (plate VIII), an exceptional publication which established Hope's reputation as a designer of outstanding vision and influential style. The Museum's armchairs and couch form half of the suite of seating furniture originally in the Egyptian room; the other half is presently owned by the Faringdon Collection Trust, Buscot Park, England.
The provenance of the Powerhouse Museum's pieces is interesting. A businessman, Sir Alfred Ashbolt, brought the suite to Australia in 1924 when he returned to Hobart after a term in London as agent-general for Tasmania (1919-1924). The furniture had been sold from the Hope estate to a London antique dealer in 1917. The couch and chairs were sold again at auction in the 1940s by the family of Sir Alfred Ashbolt. From then on, knowledge about their significance and origin appears to have faded until the armchairs were acquired at a Sydney auction by the Powerhouse Museum in 1984, and the couch acquired three years later, in 1987.
Anne Watson, 1984
Refers to objects A10447-1:2 and 87/592