New Book | Industry and Ingenuity: Ince and Mayhew

Posted in books by Editor on October 20, 2022

From Bloomsbury:

Hugh Roberts and Charles Cator, Industry and Ingenuity: The Partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2023), 448 pages, ISBN: 978-1781301098, $100.

The first comprehensive study of William Ince and John Mayhew’s famous eighteenth-century cabinetmaking partnership, complemented by high-quality photographs of their work.

The partnership of William Ince (1737–1804) and John Mayhew (1736–1811) ran from 1758 to 1804, and was one of the most enduring and well-connected collaborations in Georgian London’s tight-knit cabinetmaking community. The partners’ clientele was probably larger, and their work was arguably more influential over a longer period, than most other leading metropolitan makers—perhaps even than that of their older contemporary, the celebrated Thomas Chippendale. Despite their considerable output and an impressive tally of clients and commissions, much of Ince and Mayhew’s work has remained unidentified until recent times. The authors’ substantial research in private family archives, county record offices and bank archives has allowed them to uncover much new evidence about the business and its influence within cabinetmaking circles. In Industry and Ingenuity, the results of these new investigations are presented alongside an impressive selection of more than 500 colourful, vibrant photographs of Ince and Mayhew’s works, many previously unpublished, which together emphasise the partnership’s proper position in the pantheon of great eighteenth-century cabinetmakers.

Sir Hugh Roberts, Surveyor Emeritus of The Queen’s Works of Art, was Director of The Royal Collection, the art collection of the British Royal Family, from 1996 until 2010, having joined the Royal Household in 1988. From 1970 to 1987 he worked at Christie’s, where he was a main board director from 1976. He has written extensively on English and French furniture and decorative arts in Royal Collection exhibition catalogues and major journals, and is the author of For The King’s Pleasure (2001) and The Queen’s Diamonds (2012).

Charles Cator has worked at Christie’s, the fine art auctioneers, since 1973 and is currently Deputy Chairman of Christie’s International. During his career there he has held a number of senior positions, notably in the furniture and decorative arts fields, and has contributed articles to leading journals in these areas on furniture-makers and the history of collecting. He is also the co-author (with David Linley and Helen Chislett) of Star Pieces (2009).



Part One: The Business
Apprenticeship and Partnership
Premises and Family
Role of the Partners
The Universal System of Houshold Furniture
Branches of the Business
Workshop Management
Accounting and Finance
Relationship with Architects
‘House Style’ and Stylistic Development
Dissolution of the Partnership
The Suit in Chancery

Part Two: Commissions
Documented Commissions
Possible Commissions

Part Three: Illustrations

Select Bibliography
Photographic Credits


Lecture | Hugh Roberts on Ince & Mayhew

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on October 20, 2022

Marquetry top of one of a pair of tables made by Ince and Mayhew for the Earl of Caledon, 1785.

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From the FHS:

Sir Hugh Roberts | Ince & Mayhew: Interpreting the Record
The Furniture History Society Annual Lecture
In-person and online, Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, London, 7 November 2022

The lecture marks the publication by Philip Wilson in 2023 of Industry and Ingenuity: the Partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew by Hugh Roberts and Charles Cator. This book is the culmination of many years of research by both authors. It brings together for the first time a corpus of well documented or firmly attributed work by one of the leading metropolitan cabinet-making firms of the eighteenth century, a firm which was as well-known and successful in its day as that of Thomas Chippendale.

By the time furniture history had become established as a serious area of study in the 20th century, much of the furniture produced by this long-lived business had lost its identity and no clear picture of the firm’s output existed. The lecture will examine the process by which the authors have been able to retrieve evidence of some ninety-seven commissions, and to reconnect around three hundred pieces of furniture with patrons and documents.

Admission to the lecture is free for FHS members, but attendance is by ticket only, which must be acquired in advance. Please apply to the Events Secretary by email or post. Numbers are limited to 90. We plan to live-stream the event for those who cannot attend in person.

Sir Hugh Roberts, GCVO, FSA, is Surveyor Emeritus of The Queen’s Works of Art and former Director of The Royal Collection.

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