Chess Table by George Bullock, circa 1817
A REGENCY BRASS-MOUNTED, EBONISED AND EBONY-INLAID OAK AND BROWN OAK GAMES-TABLE
The rectangular top centred by a reversible panel with a chess board on one side, enclosing a removable leather-lined backgammon board with a shallow well below, each end with a pierced palmette three-quarter gallery above a leather-lined hinged drawer, on tapering facetted legs joined by stretchers and with brass caps and castors 29¾ in. (76 cm.) high; 26 in. (66 cm.) wide; 16¾ in. (43 cm.) deep.
This table relates to a group of furniture made in oak and holly by George Bullock (1777/8-1818) for Matthew Robinson Boulton of Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, between 1816 and 1817 (sold by his descendent, the late Major Eustace Robb, Great Tew Park, Christie's house sale, Oxfordshire, 27-29 May 1987, lot 14 [in particular]).
Listed in the invoices for the furniture at Tew is 'An Oak Chess & Back-gammon table inlaid with Holly and white mouldings. Brass rail round the edge 22.' The scrolling foliate design preserved in the Wilkinson Tracings (unbound number 219) borders the pull-out slide on both the Tew Park table and this lot. In addition, some further examples of this form, of which five are known, have an H-form turned stretcher and appear to vary in size. A related table without a stretcher was sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 19 October 2000, lot 85, while another, with stretcher, was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 23 April 2009.
Correspondence began between the two men in December 1815 when Bullock was invited to visit Tew 'with a view to the preparation of the furniture' although it is evident that the two men had had contact with one another prior to this occasion. This letter is just the first recorded in a sequence of thirty-four letters between the cabinetmaker and client and which accompany a forty-two page bill for furnishing the three principal rooms. Much of the furniture Bullock supplied to Tew Park is rendered distinctive by its considered simplicity, particularly when we compare this group with Bullock's commissions for the Duke of Atholl and the Duke of Palmella.