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Webb, John (1825-1880)

Webb, John 

London; upholsterer, cabinet maker, furniture manufacturer, dealer and collector (fl.1825–d.1880)  

The successor to his father, Charles Webb, a gold laceman and manufacturer of military braid. John Webb was a cabinet maker, furniture manufacturer, upholsterer, dealer & collector. He traded from 8 Old Bond Street (1825-51), moving in 1851 to 11 Grafton Street where he remained until the late 1850s. The business was listed as J. & R. Webb (1825–39), and in one directory of 1835 as Webb & Cragg. The Sun Fire Office records in 1829 showed John Webb and Joseph Webbe Cragg as ‘cabinetmakers and upholders’ at 8 Old Bond Street. Webb was listed as an upholsterer at the address in the 1839 Pigot’s Directory. The 1845 London Post Office Directory described him as a cabinet maker & upholsterer. In January 1853 Webb’s shop in Old Bond Street was taken over the cabinet makers Wilkinson & Co. 

Webb made some of the Gothic Revival furniture designed by A. W. N. Pugin for the House of Lords. Horsted Place was the new house, built to Pugin's design for Francis Barchard by George Myers, 1850-51; with the furniture supplied by John Webb from July 1852.  By this date Pugin had already lost his sanity but the conjecture is that Webb, like Crace, had Pugin designs to hand in his workshop.  This commission included an oak table, from the Clive & Jane Wainwright collection, offered by H. Blairman & Sons in 2023. Webb also made several reproductions of 17th & 18th century French furniture for the Marquess of Hertford, some of which survive at the Wallace Collection. He was recorded in the sale catalogue of Pryor’s Bank, Fulham, 1841 as the maker of an extending ‘Gothic oak dining table’ and a matching sideboard sold as lots 585 and 586. 

Webb was awarded a silver medal ‘for the carving in wood of a cellaret’ at the Exhibition of Recent British Manufactures and Decorative Art at the RSA,1849, the cellaret designed by John Bell. He was a juror for Class XXVI, Furniture, Upholstery etc. and also an exhibitor at the Great Exhibition, 1851, displaying a pair of large candelabras of sculptured wood, with ormolu branches carrying 72 lights.

Image
Watercolour
Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Royal Collection Trust

Webb's display also including walnut chairs and a chess table in Gothic style with Minton tiles, clearly visible in one of the series of watercolours of the Exhibition by Joseph Nash commissioned by Queen Victoria & Albert. Now in the Royal Collection (RCIN 919938). Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023

He was recorded in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts of 1854-56 and exhibited at the 1855 Paris Exhibition. He loaned furniture to and was in charge of furniture removals for the 1853 Gore House Exhibition, and loaned ‘ivory carvings’ to the 1861 Exhibition of Industrial Art at the National Gallery; and objects to the 1872 Special Loan Exhibition of Works of Art at South Kensington.

John Webb owned Wrotham Place, Kent in the 1850s, and in the 1860s retired to Villa Hollandia, Cannes, having realised ‘upwards of £4,000’ from his collection of ‘Historical Portraits, Old Sevres and fine old decorative furniture’ sold by Christie’s in March 1869. He died on 14 June 1880, leaving £10,000 (John Webb Trust Fund) to the South Kensington Museum for the purchase of objects. 

Sources: DEFM; Kirkham, ‘The London Furniture Trade’, Furniture History (1988) p. 102; Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine (November 1969); Jervis, ‘The Pryor’s Bank, Fulham’, Furniture History (1974); Meyer, ‘Trollope and Sons – Makers and Exhibitors of Fine Furniture’, The Decorative Arts Society (2001); Westgarth, A Biographical Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Antique and Curiosity Dealers (2009).