Friday, August 8, 2014

Aged in Wood

The prop lobby poster for the play in
"All About Eve"
From the collection of Jane Withers.
Sold $10,000 November 9, 2013.
Julien's Auctions
Fans of the 1950 film "All About Eve" will recognize "Aged in Wood" as the title of the play starring Margo Channing (Bette Davis) at the beginning of the story.  But it could also be used to describe the new furniture carved by Jonathan Sainsbury.  There are many makers of reproduction furniture, but Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd is a stand-out because they hand carve directly from period examples with little if any 'interpretation' and give the new pieces an authentic finish to match the original or to suit the decor, whether water-gilded, waxed, or an aged paint finish.

A pair of reproduction William Kent
console tables, carved pine and aged gesso
by Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd.
Image via Semperey.
The original Kent console table
made in the 1720s, formerly at Chiswick House,
now in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Image via V & A.
A watercolor view of the Chiswick Gallery
by William H Hunt, 1828.
Image via The Bard Graduate Center.
The Sainsbury family started a business as timber merchants in the early 18th century and branched out as cabinet-makers in 1918 with a shop in Bournemouth.  In 2004, Jonathan Sainsbury established his own business to make furniture to meet a demand where the original was either too costly or impossible to find.

The Nostell Priory Mirror
as made by Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd.
(A reduction of height may be seen when compared
to the original by Thomas Chippendale).
Image via Decorex.
Thomas Chippendale's mirror
in the State Bedroom of Nostell Priory.
National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel
via Treasure Hunt blog
Many of the reproductions are mirrors in the ELG range (English Looking Glasses).  But there are all sorts of chairs, benches, beds, brackets, lamps, center tables and console tables.  In addition to Kent and Chippendale, there are a number of pieces reproduced from originals by Robert Adam, Matthias Lock and Thomas Hope, among others from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Brighling Park table as reproduced by
Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd.
Image via Decorex.
The George II table from Brightling Park
possibly made by William Hallett.
Image via Bonhams.
Several pieces were commissioned by Carolyne Roehm for Chisholm House, her home in Charleston, South Carolina.  In addition, Sainsbury is carving a fireplace surround and overmantle inspired by the fantastic Chinese Room at Claydon; you will want to see the photos and read more about that on her blog here.

Restoration work is also undertaken by
Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd.
Read more about William Kent, the Ultimate Tastemaker, in an earlier post of The Devoted Classicist here.  See more examples of the work by Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd on their website.


  1. Lovely that such craft still exists and is doing well!

    1. A.D., I agree. Sometimes one sees good craftsmanship, but wasted on bad models. So this looks like a formula for success. Thank you for commenting.

  2. These pieces are truly gorgeous, John. Thank you for sharing!

    The Arts by Karena

  3. Fabulous! I mean, seeing Margo Channing and William Kent sharing a post on tasteful reproductions. The ultimate in Design Synthesis.


Your interest in this blog is appreciated. Other commitments might prevent an immediate response to your comments or questions. That does not lessen the value of the blog reader's input, however. Only comments relating to the current post are eligible for publication; non-relevant comments and promotional references will be deleted. Contact me at regarding other questions. Anonymous comments cannot be accepted.