Morel and Hughes Regency Carved Giltwood Daybed Likely Made for Badminton House circa 1810 #2940
Very likely part of the suite commissioned by the Duke of Beaufort for the Great Drawing Room in Badminton House when it was designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in 1811-12.
An extremely rare and elegant Grecian giltwood daybed from the Regency period attributed to Nicholas Morel and Robert Hughes.
English Circa 1810-1815.
The cushioned seat within padded and giltwood scrolled ends, the headrest being of greater height, the giltwood carved frame with leaf, husk, harebells and patera-carved facings over a gadrooned rail on palmette-carved baluster legs finishing on reeded cups and castors.
Retaining all of its original upholstery and bolster which have been traditionally reshaped and covered with a silk upholstery and fine matching piping. Some very small areas of original gilt work were retained whilst the rest carefully matched.
This important and rare giltwood daybed was designed to add both style and comfort to highly fashionable, furnished interiors. With its timeless elegance, it will provide a stylish and comfortable statement piece in any contemporary home.
The likes of the Royal Palaces and Important Houses have very similar quality and designed giltwood pieces in their collection, for more information please read below…
Morel and Hughes.
This elegant daybed is stylistically after the work of Nicholas Morel & Robert Hughes with the distinctive dense and finely wrought surface decoration. Nicholas Morel by 1827, had partnered with George Seddon, both partnerships enjoyed huge commercial success and were awarded some of the finest furnishing commissions in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Their designs are marked by a distinctly Francophile ‘antique’ flavour thanks to the designs of Morel who was of French extraction and enjoyed the patronage of George IV as both Prince Regent and King.
The earliest documented mention of Morel is in a bill for the furnishing of the Prince Regent’s residence, Carlton House in 1795 and he also worked on Brighton Pavilion. In partnership, Morel and Hughes furnished some of finest aristocratic houses in England, including Harewood House, Kenwood, Southill, Weston Park and Northumberland House. In 1828 Morel was granted the royal warrant as Upholsterer in Ordinary to George IV, almost certainly due to being commissioned to provide furnishings for Windsor Castle along with his new partner George Seddon. Morel, Hughes and Seddon were held in the highest regard as furnishers of this period and their workshops produced quality, fashionable furnishings much sought after by the highest echelons of regency society.
The Badminton suite
Badminton has long been regarded as one of the finest houses in England and its collections of furniture are very well known. The suite of japanned furniture, including a wonderful bed now in the V&A museum, is familiar to all furniture enthusiasts, having been commissioned from the Linnell firm in the 1760s and later sold at auction.
The furniture relating to Wyatville's remodelling of the house is less studied and, sadly, seemingly not as well recorded in the Badminton archives. What is known is that Wyatville conducted a series of sympathetic alterations between roughly 1809 and 1813 and the Great Drawing Room was the result of the most important changes that he made to the house. This blog post, utilising images from various modern photo shoots in the house, shows the room as it looks today, complete with two settees which have identical feet to those on our daybed. Additionally, one of the settees is clearly of exactly the same pattern as our piece in its entirety, differing only in the fact that it has a back to it and the two scrolled ends are of equal height and not staggered as on the daybed.
What is particularly interesting about this is that close examination of the Badminton settee shows that one of the armrests has been reduced in height. This suggests that it was also supplied to the house as a daybed and then subsequently converted in to a settee when fashions changed at a later date. It is therefore highly likely that the Badminton piece and ours were once a pair of daybeds supplied as part of Wyatville's work.
The author of the aforementioned blog also mentions Wyatville's ceiling for the room which incorporates a garter motif-something that is also echoed in the designs of the legs of the furniture. As is explained in the research below, although it has been possible to find good comparative examples of furniture produced for other houses, no other pieces in this particular pattern have come to light. It seems more than likely that the Badminton suite was designed, perhaps by Wyatville himself, specifically for this room and, as such, it is probable that the daybed originally formed a part of this suite and was sold at auction at a later date. As was mentioned earlier, the family did auction parts of suites of furniture in the early 20th century whilst retaining other items from this suite for continued use and so this would also be in keeping with the known strategies employed by the family. It has not been possible to locate any documentation relating to the daybed but it is important to note that this is also true for the other furniture in the suite which is still in Badminton today. The whole suite appears to be undocumented at this point although further research is ongoing. It is interesting to note that James Peill, in an article in for House and Garden Magazine in November of 2020 also attributed the surviving furniture from the Wyatville commission to Morel.
The Badminton suite was also photographed on various occasions for Country Life, most notably on the 9th of April 1987 p.129 and the 14th of September 1907 p.382. Both images show the matching settee to our daybed in great detail.
We are grateful to Mrs Elaine Milsom at Badminton for her help in researching the available archival records there. In particular, Mrs Milsom's research has uncovered multiple recorded payments to George Seddon-later to partner with Morel to form Morel and Seddon from c. 1827-in the late 18th century. This is interesting as it proves that the Dukes of Beaufort had a pre-existing relationship with one of the firms that came to be interlinked with Morel and so makes it all the more likely that the furniture in the Badminton suite was supplied by the firm.
Design and Comparisons
Classical designs, like this ‘couch’ or ‘Grecian squab’ were extremely fashionable in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. In 1803 designer Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806) published a design for a ‘Grecian Squab’ or Classical couch in The Cabinet Dictionary (vol. II, pl. 50), an influential source for furniture makers and their clients. Certain motifs from the daybed are particularly noticeable in a chaise longue pattern in George Smith’s Collection for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1808, (pl.65), notably the scrolling palm leaves and the turned, reeded legs. Smith, who advertised himself as Upholder to George IV when Prince of Wales, noted that such seats were ‘admissible in Drawing Rooms, Boudoirs, Parlours or Dressing Rooms’.
The distinctive palm motif is featured in the palm-wrapped drawing room suite which Morel provided for Samuel Whitbread II’s home of Southill (see ‘Regency Furniture 1795-1820’ Margaret Jourdain, p.44-45, rev.ed.1965). In an image of the drawing room furniture www.countrylifeimages.co.uk (CL 28/04/1994 Image No. 517918) the motif can clearly be seen gracing the legs and sides of a pair of gilt chairs.
The palm (anthemion) motif and paterae feature on the distinctive legs and frieze on a pier table made by Morel & Seddon from the Crimson Drawing Room at Windsor Castle (RCIN 2595) www.rct.uk/collection/search/46/collection/2595/pier-table.
Features such as the palmettes, paterae and gadroon pattern can also be seen on a Bergère chair at the Victoria & Albert Museum (Acc. No. W.48:1, 2-1979) made by Morel & Hughes for the Duke of Northumberland’s London home, Northumberland House in 1823. The bill dated 31st March 1823 (Northumberland Archives UI 64) lists ‘2 bergeres, from the antique…richly carved and gilt with ornamented trusses, foliage leaves, scroll sides and c. the tablet back…standing on brass socket castors’…to covering the seats, backs & tablets of the bergeres with grey silk, lined with calico, and finished with silk gimps, and cord in suit’. The two bergères (and six side chairs from the suite) were sold from the collection of David Style at Wateringbury Place (Christie’s, 1st June 1978). The V&A acquired one bergère and the remaining bergère was acquired by Towneley Hall Art Gallery, Burnley. Other pieces from the suite remain in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland. The design is based on antique Greek forms but the decoration comes from more recent French Empire designs, reflecting Morel’s fashionable French influence.
A gilded and painted sofa with palm scrolls by Morel & Hughes was provided for the 1st Earl of Bradford’s Drawing Room at Weston Park in 1806 [‘The Remodelling of Weston Park’ Phillis Rogers – Furniture History 1987 pp.11-34 and fig.6 – A set of eight George IV brass-mounted Brazilian Rosewood and parcel-gilt dining chairs attributed to Morel & Hughes c.1820 share the same tapering, turned and reeded legs with fluted cuffs [Christie’s: ‘The Collector: English Furniture, Clocks & Works of Art’ Lot 50: 13 November 2018].
Height: 26 1/2 inches - 67.5cm
Depth: 28 1/2 inches - 72cm
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