A fine late 18th Century Scottish Sheraton period mahogany fitted dressing table by the firm of Young, Trotter & Hamilton, of 'Holyroodhouse design', circa 1795

 

This fine & very rare Sheraton period dressing table was produced in Edinburgh by the firm of Young, Trotter & Hamilton, and corresponds exactly to the suite of furniture supplied in 1796 by Young, Trotter & Hamilton to furnish the Royal apartments of the ancient Scottish palace of Holyrood house for the Comte d'Artois (later Charles X) and his companions during their exile in Scotland from 1796-1803.

 

The segmented mahogany tabletop is cross banded with tulipwood and satinwood with boxwood stringing, and inlaid with a central finely-flamed mahogany oval corresponding to the Young, Trotter & Hamilton wardrobe supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 27840) and the Young, Trotter & Hamilton secretaire bookcase supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 27853). The lid opens to reveal a fitted interior showcasing a central fold-away mirror with adjustable double-ratchet stand, corresponding to the Young, Trotter & Hamilton writing table supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 27847) and the Young, Trotter & Hamilton attributed prie-dieu supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 28621). The sliding, adjustable mirror is flanked by six lidded compartments, each mahogany lid banded with satinwood and boxwood stringing and topped with a central turned ebony knob. The gently bow-fronted mahogany case is banded with satinwood and supported on four straight tapering legs inlaid with boxwood stringing including blind ogee beaded panels & dot, in a simple & striking design, identical to the inlay on the Young, Trotter & Hamilton writing table supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 27847), the pair of Young, Trotter & Hamilton pier tables supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 27597), and the pair of Young, Trotter & Hamilton card tables supplied to Holyrood (RCIN 27852).

 

The Holyrood house commission was to be the most important commission received by Trotter (known as 'the Chippendale of Scotland') and his firm to that date. The Royal Collection Trust, which still retains a dozen original pieces of furniture supplied in 1796, describes this commission as:

 

"a group of furniture made by the Edinburgh firm of Young, Trotter and Hamilton and supplied to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1796 for the residence of Charles-Philippe, comte d'Artois (1757-1836), the future Charles X of France and the youngest brother of Louis XVI. The comte had been in exile since the start of the French Revolution in 1789; he had incurred large debts on the Continent and was offered refuge at Holyroodhouse, where he was able to take advantage of the sanctuary it offered to debtors. Young, Trotter and Hamilton were commissioned to renovate the interiors of the neglected State Apartments at the Palace for use by the comte and his court. The firm had set up a carpet manufactory in the 1760s and James Hamilton, a cabinetmaker, was taken on as a partner in 1775. By 1796 it was undoubtedly the largest furnishing firm in Edinburgh, with an extensive warehouse on the corner of Princes Street. At its head was 24-year-old William Trotter, whose father and grandfather had founded the firm; he became sole proprietor in 1805. The renovations at Holyroodhouse took around four months: as well as supplying new furniture, Young, Trotter and Hamilton cleaned and re-hung tapestries, repaired and papered walls, laid carpets and made curtains for windows and bed-hangings. The total bill for the work was £2,613 13s 9d and the first instalment of £750 was paid by His Majesty’s Court of Exchequer for Scotland. A collection of new mahogany furniture, plain but elegant and decorated with delicate stringing, was provided for the comte d’Artois at the Palace."

 

Among the furnishings supplied by Young, Trotter & Hamilton for the Comte d'Artois in 1796 still retained in the Royal Collection Trust at Holyroodhouse, are a pair of pier tables (RCIN 27597), a pair of card tables (RCIN 27852) and a writing desk (RCIN 27847), all with identical banded decoration and inlay design to the present dressing table. A 1796 wardrobe in Holyroodhouse (RCIN 27840), features a pair of doors cross banded with satinwood and inlaid with mahogany ovals which correspond to the top lid of the present dressing table.

 

According to The Royal Collection Trust,: "the elegant style was similar to the furniture supplied by Young, Trotter and Hamilton to the residents of Edinburgh’s stylish New Town. The comte d’Artois was joined at Holyroodhouse by members of his family and his servants; he remained there until 1803. He eventually succeeded to the French throne in 1824 and, following his abdication in 1830, returned to take up residence in the Palace, when the Trotter furniture was re-used. The Holyroodhouse commission cemented the reputation of Young, Trotter and Hamilton as the makers of the most fashionable furniture in Edinburgh. Trotters (as the firm was known after 1805) were also called in to the Palace [at Holyroodhouse] in 1822 to supply furniture and upholstery for the visit of George IV and to fit out the Great Drawing Room in Charles II’s old Guard Chamber for George IV’s levée.The firm also renovated areas of the Palace for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1850."

 

Young, Trotter & Hamilton likely based their design for this dressing table on slightly earlier sketches by the London firm Ince & Mayhew, afterwards adding their own signature Scottish style to the inlay and finishing. Retaining all original brass handware and with working key.

 

Measurements: 29 inches high (with lid closed); 27-1/2 inches wide; 20-1/2 inches deep

 

Sources:

Bamford, F. 'A Dictionary of Edinburgh Wrights and Furniture Makers, 1660-1840' (1983).

Beard, G & Gilbert, C. 'Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840' (1986).

The British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO), 'Young & Trotter; Young, Trotter & Hamilton; Young, Trotter, Hamilton & Trotter; Young & Trotters', 2021.

Pryke, S. 'At the sign of The Pelican – the Edinburgh furniture makers Young and Trotter’ Regional Furniture VI (1992) p.10-21.

Swain, M. ‘Furniture for the Comte D’Artois at Holyrood, 1796’, Furniture History (1992), pp. 98-128.

Royal Collection Trust (RCT UK): The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.

A fine late 18th C Scottish dressing table by Young, Trotter & Hamilton c1795

C$22,500.00Price
  • PROVENANCE:

    From the estate of the late Senator Ernest Leo Kolber, OC (1929-2020) of Westmount, Quebec.

    Ernest Leo Kolber was a Canadian businessman, philanthropist and Senator. Kolber was President of Cemp Investments, a family holding company for the children of Samuel Bronfman. In the 1960s, Kolber played a key role in the construction of the Toronto Dominion Centre, a landmark building complex designed by Mies van der Rohe that is credited with helping to elevate Toronto to the status of a world class city. Kolber was also instrumental in two major Bronfman deals: Seagram's purchase of a stake in DuPont and the sale of the Cadillac-Fairview real estate company at the height of its value in 1987. In the process, Kolber acquired considerable wealth in his own right, including $100 million for arranging the Cadillac-Fairview sale.

    Author Peter C. Newman wrote in his 1975 book The Canadian Establishment that Kolber was so close to the Bronfman family that "Sam [Bronfman] treated him as a son and Leo worshipped Sam as a father." Newman calls Kolber "the non-Bronfman Bronfman with the big brain" and "a tough cookie," but goes on to say that Kolber "was always honest and had a sense of humor about himself." A character based on a caricature of Kolber appears in the Mordecai Richler novel Solomon Gursky Was Here; the portrait is highly unflattering.

    For many years, Kolber was the chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party of Canada. He also served on the boards of many companies, including Seagram, MGM, and the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

    In 1983, Kolber was appointed to the Senate of Canada representing the senatorial division of Victoria, Quebec. He was the Chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. Kolber played a role in reducing Canada's capital gains taxes. He advocated a change in government policy to permit bank mergers.

    Kolber retired from the Senate shortly before his 75th birthday in 2004. In 2005, he was appointed Chair of the Advisory Council on National Security.

    n December 2000, the National Assembly of Quebec condemned Yves Michaud, a former Parti Québécois delegate-general to Paris, for repeating on the radio angry remarks he had made to Kolber in a Montreal barber shop. Michaud had said that Jews weren't the only people in the world to have suffered. The controversy escalated into what became known as l'Affaire Michaud. Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard subsequently resigned, citing support for Michaud within the Parti Québécois as one of his reasons.

    In 2007, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.