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
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.