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Casbert, John (1660-1677)

Casbert, John

The Great Wardrobe, Carter Lane, London; upholsterer (fl. 1660–1677)

Casbert supplied furnishings for royal palaces during the reign of Charles II on a very extensive scale. These included upholstered chairs, some chairs of estate with the associated stools and cushions, bedsteads, canopies of state and hangings and curtaining. Much of the material used was of fine quality and included Turkey work, crimson velvet and scarlet satin. Gold and silver fringe is frequently mentioned. 

Typical of the type of furniture supplied is an entry in the Lord Chamberlain's accounts for May 1674 for ‘a French chaire Hollow in ye back and quilted with two Stooles suitable of crimson Damaske with border and bayes and silke Fringe and cases of Serge’ for which £1 was charged. One ‘rich bed of Crimson Velvett’ supplied to Hampton Court was charged at £30. 

Two X-frame chairs originally supplied to Hampton Court (now at Knole), are attributed to Casbert. They 'retain their original egg-shaped finials, upholstery, different top covers and passementerie. Under the seats, stamped in black on the upholstery cover, beneath a crown is the mark: "H[AMPTON] C[OURT] 1661"' [Rowell, Furniture History (2023), p. 63 and illus. pp. 31, 64, 67]. 

The Palace of Whitehall, Windsor Castle and Somerset House were likewise supplied by Casbert. 

He is also the maker of an X-frame chair and a footstool, made for the use of William Juxton, the Archbishop of Canterbury (1582-1663), at the coronation of Charles II. The provenance is confirmed in 'an undated bill in his 1660-61 accounts, for "worke and provisions made by him p[er]formed for his Mat'ies servis at his Coronation"'. Also in these accounts an entry '"ffor making a rich purple velvt Chaire of State for the Bishop with a foot stoole and seat cusshon  suitable fringed with gold fringes and double gilt nales with cases of Bayes. £04:00:00"' [Rowell, Furniture History (2023), p. 66].  The chair and footstool are now on display in the British Galleries, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (illustrated below):

Casbert X-frame chair & stool
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
The so-called 'Juxton Chair'. A chair of state made of beechwood, covered with purple velvet and trimmed with silver and gold fringe. Chair made by Casbert and fringe by Ralph Silverton, 1661 [W.12:1, 2-1928]. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Purchased with Art Fund support.
Casbert X-frame chair back
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Back of the 'Juxton Chair' 1661 [W.12:1, 2-1928]. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Purchased with Art Fund support.

He also appears to have been responsible for the fitting up the the royal yachts Monmouth, Cleveland and Henrietta and in September 1668 made a charge of £13 ‘for going and coming by water to the Monmouth Yacht fowre severall tymes, and carriage of Goodes’

Sources: DEFM; Christopher Rowell, 'Seventeenth Century Furniture At Knole', Furniture History ((2023); Annabel Westman, The Art of the Trimmings-Maker in Interior Decoration: Fringe Frog & Tassel (London, 2019), pp. 49-50; Heal; The National Archive (TNA) LC5/39–40, LC9/271–75; Connoisseur, vol. 43, pp. 15, 19, 86, 89; Country Life, 8 April 1954, p. 1028, 9 June 1977, p. 1620.

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