A Wonderfully Carved & Stained c.1900 Oak Gallery Artist’s Easel

Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian / Edwardian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1910
Height: 74 inches (at maximum)
Width: 23 inches (at base, widest point)

The late nineteenth century hand-carved stained oak artist’s easel having reeded supports, the A-frame carved in the manner of Grinling Gibbons with a cherubic mask, scallop shell, and rococo scrolls, the whole with adjustable canvas rest, is of very high quality.

The condition is good with full operation and ease of use. There are no areas of loss, simply an amount of wear one would expect to the stained finish, consistent with age and showing in the right areas. There is a little old worming to rear support and some discreet restoration to three areas where minor repairs have been needed. The hinge is stamped WT & S for William Tonks and Sons and it is now affixed by two screws rather than four. The stamp to the hinge doesn’t necessarily date the easel but it dates the hinge at least to the 1900s. By 1869 William Tonks and Sons they had developed the eight-pointed 'sun' trade mark showing two eyes and a mouth. Later the 'WT&S' initials were sometimes inserted instead for the marks on some items but other items had a smaller, empty sun, like the one found on this hinge, on items designed in the 1900s. There is a small possibility that the easel may be earlier, maybe early nineteenth century.

Easel painting is painting executed on a portable support such as a panel or canvas, instead of on a wall. It is likely that easel paintings were known to the ancient Egyptians, and the 1st-century-ad Roman scholar Pliny the Elder refers to a large panel placed on an easel; it was not until the 13th century, however, that easel paintings became relatively common, finally superseding in popularity the mural, or wall painting. Both the easel and easel painting developed during the Renaissance period of art.

One would be hard pressed to find any kind of gallery easel with more panache and quality than this example.