I recently attended an interesting lecture on The Genius of Robert Adam. The speaker, Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski , was a fan of Chippendale so most of his furniture examples were by Chippendale. However Ince & Mayhew are known to have had a long-standing relationship with Robert Adam and they provided a number of items of furniture to his designs.
The first known collaboration was for the 6th Earl of Coventry at Croome Court where Ince & Mayhew produced the earliest known examples of marquetry commodes in 1764. They also contributed to the Tapestry Room, producing a pier glass designed by Robert Adam, which was 8’ 9” tall x 5’6” wide and carved with a shell on top, drops of husks and goats heads all in the very best Double Burnish’d Gold.i The Earl was billed £35 for this mirror in 1769. The firm also provided the chairs and settees for the Tapestry Room, the base for the marble top pier table and sent a crew to hang the tapestries and apply the seat covers. The whole of the Tapestry Room is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
There are bills to show Ince & Mayhew worked with Robert Adam to produce furniture for Sir John Griffin Griffin 1767 at Audley End or his London house 10 New Burlington Street; also for Lord Kerry in 1771 for his Portman Square residence and for Lady Shelburne’s London house. It is also possible they provided commodes for Syon House as they are mentioned in the Duchess of Northumberland's notebooks.
The Kimbolton cabinet was produced for Elizabeth, Duchess of Manchester to designs by Robert Adam in 1774. Its purpose was to exhibit eleven Florentine pietra dura plaques. This cabinet is now in the Victoria and Albert museum, London.
In 1775 Ince & Mayhew produced a commode for the Countess of Derby’s Dressing room, part of the redesign of Lord Derby’s house in Grosvenor Square by Robert Adam. The drawings for this commode are at the Soane Museum and the design was faithfully copied by William Ince as he interpreted the drawing into a solid piece of furniture. The only difference he made was to change the feet so the cabinet did not fall over when the central door was opened. The bill sent by Ince and Mayhew to the Earl of Derby dated 3rd November 1775 made it clear that the Commode was from a Design of Messrs. Adams The firm also provided two Tripod Pedestals to the Earl and the total bill of £205 5s 6d was settled on 24th April 1776.ii According to the Soane Museum, the commode is one of very few pieces from 23 Grosvenor Square to have survived, and remains in the possession of the 19th Earl of Derby,
It is now thought that Ince & Mayhew were also responsible for the commode at Osterley Park iii. Hugh Roberts has made this suggestion as the commode has similarities to the Derby House commode. He has noted that the design of the inlaid and partly coloured marquetry tops follow Adam’s design almost exactly.
iWills, Geoffrey English looking-glasses:a study of the glass, frames and makers (1670-1820) 1965 Country LifeiiRoberts, H. (1985). The Derby House Commode. The Burlington Magazine, 127(986), 275-283. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/882065
iii Rowell, Christopher, Apollo NT Historic Houses & Collections Annual 2012
Interesting news in the Antiques Trade Gazette about a pair of satinwood inlaid demi-lune card tables sold in Chichester by Stride & Sons on 31st March. They were estimated at £800-£1200 described as George III with later additions. Apparently they would have been made into a single table in the 19th century, but were later taken apart again. There was a great deal of interest as the tables are ‘very much in the manner of Ince & Mayhew’, and nine phone lines were set up to take bids. The tables were sold to the London trade for £36,000. Thanks to cousin Matt Coles for alerting me to this information.
A recent Sotheby’s auction included a serpentine commode attributed to Ince & Mayhew, estimated at £20,00-£40,000. It was dated around 1770 and made of marquetry, padouk and mahogany. According to the catalogue ‘The serpentine form, shallow frieze drawer, rounded corners and bracket feet, and deeply etched foliate decoration all feature on other examples long associated to Mayhew and Ince’. This piece was not sold.
In the same auction a lovely octagonal satinwood and wenge tilt-top table, dated circa 1780, and described as in the manner of Ince & Mayhew was sold for £5000, estimate £1000 to £1,500. Interesting times!
The Royal Collection includes a side table attributed to Ince & Mayhew, which is in the East Gallery of Buckingham Palace. It is made of gilded walnut and pine and has a marble top. The frieze has a crouching lion in the centre. This lion is similar to one on a medallion on a side table supplied to the Earl of Kerry by Ince & Mayhew, as well as one on a serpentine table at Kenwood.
The table in Buckingham Palace came from Woodhall Park in Hertfordshire and was made for Sir Thomas Rumbold. According to Historic England, Sir Thomas Rumbold bought the estate around 1777, from John Boteler for £85,000. Rumbold, who was the Governor of Madras for the East India Company, demolished the remains of the house which had partly burnt out in 1771, building a new one designed by Thomas Leverton in the neo-classical style. In 1782-3, when Rumbold returned from several years abroad, an extensive planting programme was put in hand, with plants supplied by the firm of William Malcolm and Son, Royal Nurserymen and 'Surveyors, Nursery and Seedsmen' of Stockwell (Debois 1985).
Rumbold sold the estate to Paul Benfield in 1794, who sold it on to Samuel Smith (d 1834) in 1801. Samuel Smith was a partner in the family banking business. He succeeded his father as M.P. for St. Germans, and voted with Pitt over the Regency. Upon Smith's death his son Abel Smith inherited the estate, which continued in the family into the twentieth century.
Ince & Mayhew were Rumbold’s principal furniture suppliers. A pair of side tables made of sabicu, amaranth and holly, also with marble tops, was sold at Christie’s in 2007 for £156,000. According to the catalogue notes these tables are linked to the Woodhall Park furniture. An article was written for Country Life magazine in 1930 about this furniture, mentioning some Grecian tripod candelabra-stands which were inlaid with varie-coloured woods and trompe l'oeil flutes, like the tables. Sabicu comes from a West Indian tree and resembles mahogany; amaranth is another name for purpleheart wood.
Thomas Leverton was responsible for a number of eighteenth century houses, most of which have now been demolished or remodelled, as well as Charing Cross fire engine house. His works include:
 Lucy Wood, Catalogue of Commodes
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.