An Important, and previously un-recorded, George II Brass-Inlaid Mahogany Flower-Tub from the circle of John Channon

each of the four sides inlaid with a different botanical specimen in finely engraved brass consisting of Narcissus, Poppy, Honeysuckle and Rose, each within a different brass border design, raised on a plinth base with ogee bracket feet. Both the fine construction and the superlative brass inlay help to tentatively attribute this jardiniere to the London cabinet maker John Channon of St Martin’s Lane.

Height 20 cm (8 inches)
Width 22 cm (8.75 inches)
Depth 22 cm (8.75 inches)
English. Circa 1740/50

The design of the floral inlay on the present piece is possibly inspired by Robert Fouber’s Twelve Months of Flowers and Fruits, first published in c. 1732 (at which time Otho Channon, John Channon’s father, is listed as a subscriber). It was re-issued in 1742 when John Channon was also listed as a subscriber, which points to his interest in botanical engravings as a source

The following advertisement which appeared in The Craftsman, 24 July 1742: ‘This is to give Notice, that Furbur’s Collection of Twelve Monthly Flower Prints are now reprinted, and to prevent the Public being imposed upon, by spurious Copies sold about Town, the original Prints are Sixteen inches and a Quarter by Twelve, with a Handsome Title Plate of the Subscriber’s Names, and under each Plate is engrav’d these words, From the Collection of Robert Furbur, Gardener at Kensington, design’d by P. Cassteels, and engrav’d by H. Fletcher; and now sold colour’d for Two Guineas a Set by Samuel Sympson, Engraver and Print Seller, in Maiden-Lane, Covent Garden; John Channon, Cabinet maker and Frame Maker, in St Martin’s Lane and George Lacy who colours the said Flowers, in Red Lion Court, Long-Acre. NB At the above Places are sold Mr. Furbur’s Collection of Fruit Pieces’.

The published attributions of brass-inlaid furniture of the second and third quarters of the 18th century are fraught with anomalies and authorial retractions and corrections. The signature of John Channon, found on the famous brass-inlaid bookcases at Powderham Castle, lead to his name being given to almost any piece similarly decorated but, over the ensuing years, other names have come to light. A bureau-bookcase in a private collection with an affixed hand-written label Antrobus Fecit with the intriguingly early date of 1730, lead to a re-assessment of the dating of many pieces, and related items of brass-inlaid furniture have turned up with other signatures – Samuel Bennett, T. Landall, J. Graveley are all recorded. John Frederick Hintz of the Moravian Brotherhood, a colleague of Abraham Roentgen, also produced pieces in England, notably tripod tea or supper tables, with fine brass inlay. The Channon family’s subscriptions to Fouber’s Twelve Months of Flowers and Fruits is, of course, telling, but any attribution must remain tentative as it is difficult at this stage to give this fine flower-tub to one particular maker with any degree of certainty.

‘Channon, Senr.’, and ‘Channon, Jnr’ were also subscribers to Chippendale’s Director (1754).