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Arbuckle, Charles (1754–72)

Arbuckle, Charles

St Alban's St, Pall Mall, London; upholder (fl.1754–72)

Fellow of the Society for Arts and Manufactures, elected 1765. Rate books show him to be working from the Pall Mall address between 1763 and 1772.

Arbuckle’s most prestigious known patron was the 4th Duke of Marlborough, for whom he supplied furnishing for both Blenheim Palace and Marlborough House. Earlier, in 1754-5, he had provided furnishings for the 3rd Duke at Marlborough House and possibly Langley. After the 4th Duke inherited in 1758 he undertook a major campaign of refurnishing. In 1764 the value of upholstery and furniture supplied by Arbuckle for both Blenheim and Marlborough House amounted to just over £433. It included not only seat furniture but wallpaper, gilt papier maché borders and curtains. In 1770 Arbuckle supplied furniture for the house built by Sir William Chambers for the Duke’s agent.

In 1766 Arbuckle was employed by Lady Clive to furnish the Clives’ London house at 45 Berkeley Square. In May 1766 she wrote to her husband ‘… I have employed… a very excellent Upholsterer employed by the D. of Marlborough, named Arbuckle, to fit up and adorn this house’. Although itemised bills do not survive, payments on account totalling £3,400 were made between October 1766 and February 1771. Arbuckle was also one of those tradesmen given £500 of East India Company stock by Robert Clive so that he would qualify for voting for his patron in the election of Directors to the Company. It may be significant that with both the Marlborough and Clive commissions Sir William Chambers played a key role in advising the patron and acted to some extent as intermediary between Arbuckle and the patron.

Among the seat furniture Arbuckle is thought to have supplied to Lady Clive is a suite of nineteen pieces recorded in the Great Drawing Room in Berkeley Square in 1774 and removed in 1936 to Powis Castle. A sofa, two armchairs and six back chairs are still at Powis. One sofa was sold in 1958 and purchased by the National Museum of Wales, and a further six chairs and two armchairs were sold at Christies in 1959. One more sofa is currently unaccounted for. The chairs sold at Christies in 1959 were sold again at Sotheby’s, New York, 1-2 November 1985, lot 207.

Source: Fairclough, ‘‘In the Richest and Most Elegant Manner’: A Suite of Furniture for Clive of India’, Furniture History (2000); Roberts ‘‘Nicely Fitted Up’: Furniture for the 4th Duke of Marlborough’, Furniture History (1994).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.