Magnificent & rare museum quality PAIR of 19th century English marked Jennens & Bettridge papier mache 58” tall fire screen fixtures, movable screens with hand painted castle interior scenes & figures, enamel decorated stands and both in wonderful condition! In the 19th century, British furniture makers in particular experimented with some unique and extraordinary materials in an attempt to capture the imagination (and purse strings) of the public. One of the success stories was the papier mache furniture made by Jennens & Bettridge (1816-1864). Located in Birmingham and from the 1920s, Jennens & Bettridge used Japanned papier mache in conjunction with metal or wood frames to produce a range of furniture and in 1825 patented a technique for incorporating mother of pearl inlays in their papier mache works. Successors of Henry Clay (maker to George III and the Prince of Wales), Jennens & Bettridge later relocated in London and expanded their business to Paris & New York around 1851-52. Specializing in papier mache trays mostly, polychrome decoration and hand painted scenes one of their true calling cards. The paintings were normally done in the manner of the painter George Morland (1763-1804). This piece with no mother of pearl inlays which means they likely predate their 1825 patent of the technique. The artistry is superb! Each screen entirely covered in hand painted decoration, both interiors and the detail is magnificent! Expansive vaulted ceilings on each, one with vibrant stained glass windows, gilded fireplace and two figures consisting of a seated woman and likely suitor with plumed cap and sword. The other screen also with one full side in glowing stained glass but with more of a banquet hall or hunting room feel, trophies mounted the walls behind the group of figures, two men in the center in a dueling stance though likely just boasting of previous exploits. Winged architectural busts along the ceiling with armorial style shield crests and gilded crowns. Simply exquisite! The screens are held aloft on turned wood poles, gilt bronze mounting hardware is original and allows the height of the screens to be adjusts. The bases also superb with a scalloped shaping to them and beautiful gold/gilded, blue and red enamel decorations! The backs of each screen panel and the bottoms of each base all bear the Jennens & Bettridge die stamp. Makers to Queen Victoria! A museum quality PAIR here, rare to find. Marked by one of the, if not THE most reputable makers of the era.
Very good condition. The turned finals on the poles are replacements and appear to be resin rather than turned wood. One screen, the one with hunting trophies, has some surface glaze crazing that’s visible with the right light reflection (likely resulting from the heat of the fire, their purpose in mind). We’ve gone over the front of that screen with Gamvar to protect it for its next 100 years :) but there are a few resulting ‘drips’ visible on the back side now. Neither screen has any warping, cracking or edge chips though which is quite rare. The poles do have some scratches from the bronze adjusting mounts and there is some faint surface scuffing likely on the screen panels but no deeper scratches, etc. Some slight wear to the enamel on the bases (hardly any) and there is one chip each to the very bottom scalloped platforms (see pictures). Both pieces have all the original hardware and will disassemble somewhat for shipment so plan on reassembly of the base and pole (the screens just slide down on to the poles so easy). See pictures for all measurements.