The Carlton House Desk:
Early references to desks of this type are discussed in Hugh Roberts `’The First Carlton House Table?”, Furniture History Journal, 1995, pg. 124-128. This includes an entry from the Prince of Wales’ Accounts in the Royal Archives which reveals an insight into a table of this form supplied by John Kerr, one of the Prince’s favoured Cabinetmakers, as follows;
Feb 5 1790: ”To a Large Elegant Satinwood Writing table containing 15 Drawers and two Cupboards Top covered with superfine Green Cloth to rise Occasionally the whole Varnish’d and Polish’d Compleat £20”.
The account verifies the existence of such a table in the late 18th century, supplied directly to the Prince for Carlton House prior to the general release of comparative designs such as those in George Hepplewhite’s The Cabinet-Maker’s London Book of Prices, 2nd ed., 1793, pl.21, and Thomas Sheraton’s The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, 1793, pl.60 (see illustration). In 1814 Rudolph Ackermann included a French fashioned writing table with rounded cartonnier section in his Repository of Arts naming it a `Carlton House table’ and thereby implying its origins. A table of this model also with draped swag handles and which was reputedly commissioned by the Prince of Wales, later George IV, for Carlton House, was sold by Sotheby’s on the 25 April 1986, Lot 73.
The desk remains one of the more original and most popular & desired inventions of the late eighteenth century. Its innovation lay in being finished on all four sides such that they could stand in the middle of the room. Examples of original Carlton House desks made before 1820 are exceptionally rare, this powerful & refined piece by George Bullock is without question one of the most beautifully constructed & finest ever made.
George Bullock ( 1783 – 1818 )
Was a Regency period Modeller, Sculptor, Cabinetmaker and furniture designer, he was an extremely talented and influential Cabinetmaker of the early nineteenth century. During his short life he secured an illustrious clientele of European nobility including the Duke of Buccleuch, the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle, the Earl of Mansfield at Scone Castle, Sir Walter Scot at Abbotsford and he also supplied the furnishings for Napoleon’s home on the Island of St. Helena. His career started in Liverpool and later took him to London where he was locally celebrated for his remarkable craftsmanship. His favoured use of Burr & Pollard Oak & exotic woods and design influenced from the Neo-Classical, Gothic, Jacobean and Elizabethan styles have made his pieces instantly recognisable.
The exquisitely powerful design & exceptional rarity of this Museum quality masterpiece cannot be overstated. It is a truly magnificent example.