It’s nice if you know the names of the people conncected with specific pieces of early-eighteenth-century furniture; it is even better when you have a portrait of them.
The above portrait of Edward Dryden, his wife Elizabeth Allen and their children was purchased by the National Trust with the help of the Art Fund in 1987. Edward, a wealthy London grocer, was the nephew of the poet John Dryden.
The picture hangs at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire, the house that Edward remodeled between 1708 and 1710. The painting also includes a glimpse of the just completed garden.
The set of furniture was originally supplied by Thomas Phill of the Strand, who in 1716 submitted a bill for chairs with ‘frames of ye newest hashion stufft up in Lynnen’ and ‘for makeing ye needle worke covers & fixeing ym in the chaires.’ They were sold in 1938, but bought back and donated to Canons Ashby by an anonymous benefactor in 1983, soon after the National Trust had acquired and restored the house.