An Important Regency Wax Relief Portrait with Ebonised Wood and Brass-fitted Frame by Thomas Posonby
For sale, an important regency wax relief portrait with ebonised frame and brass surround by the London maker Thomas Ponsonby of 17 Piccadilly, London.
This is a superb example of the Regency fashion for relief portraiture by a royally appointed frame-maker. The ebonised frame is adorned with brass surround, convex glass and superb ornamental acorn and oak leaf decorative detailing to the suspension ring. The quality of the ornamental work is almost certain to have emanated from the workshops of the renowned George Jackson.
The portrait itself is of a Regency Gentleman and although the identity of the sitter remains unclear, magnification reveals the lettering “Warwick. F.”. A tantalising detail that requires further research.
The back of the frame also bears an original trade label to “T. Ponsonby, Carver, Gilder & Glass Grinder, 17 Piccadilly, The Hay Market”. Thomas Ponsonby was known to have traded at the premise of 17 Piccadilly from 1802 – 1822 producing looking glasses, picture frames and gilt furniture. He was appointed as carver and gilder to the King in 1823 and maintained his Royal Warrant successively through to Queen Victoria’s reign.
A further description of Thomas Ponsonby and George Jackson can be found within the research pages of the National Portrait Gallery:
Thomas Ponsonby used the specialist composition ornament maker, Thomas Jackson (qv), for framing work in 1812. Ponsonby, and then Thomas Ponsonby & Son, were good customers of Jackson’s son, George Jackson (qv), 1813-6, and of George Jackson & Sons, 1836-42, according to two Jackson account books recently acquired by the V&A Archive of Art and Design (AAD/2012/1/2/1, 3). George Jackson undertook more work for Ponsonby in supplying ornamental details for decorating frames and in ornamenting frames, 1813-6, than he did for almost any other customer with the possible exception of Joseph Green (qv). Jackson apparently used Ponsonby’s own designs in supplying ornament to other makers so that the terms, ‘Ponsonbys honeysuckles’, ‘Ponsonby husk’ and ‘Ponsonbys pateras’, appear in Jackson’s account book, 1816-7.
In 1825, Ponsonby attended a meeting of more than fifty master carvers and gilders who resolved to resist the demands of journeymen for an increase in wages (The Times 30 June 1825). He died in 1848, age 81, and was buried at All Souls’ Cemetery. In his lengthy will, made 26 July 1844 and proved 18 February 1848, Ponsonby described himself as a carver and gilder of 32 Regent's Circus. He referred to his two sons, William Ponsonby for whom he had already provided an annuity, and Thomas Thompson Ponsonby who was bequeathed his 'stock-in-trade... and working utensils, drawings and plans' at 32 Regent’s Circus, where his son was described as already in occupation.
George Jackson, himself a Royal Warrant holder, was thought to have been the first Englishman to have brought the process of composition molding to Great Britain in the early nineteenth century. The company’s account books can be found in The V&A collection.
The frame dimension are: 8.5 x 8 cms, with the relief measuring 4.5 x 4 cms