c. 1765 England

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Crossbanded overall in rosewood, the radially-veneered top with burr-yew panel at the rear edge enclosed by floral garlands, further inlaid with scrolls of acanthus linked by husks, above a panelled frieze centred by a patera draped with husks, above a pair of doors inlaid with garlands of abundant flowers draped between paterae, enclosing two mahogany-fronted drawers, flanked by panels of ribbon-tied urns draped with husks, with panelled uprights of husk trails, on short cabriole legs in the French manner with sabots.

The antique ornament of sacrificial ewers and paterae had been introduced in the 1750s for fashionable dressing-room apartments by the Rome-trained architect James Stuart (d. 1788). Such ewers for instance feature on Lady Fetherstonhaugh's 'bonheur du-jour' cabinet, which was executed for Uppark, Sussex around 1770, and has been attributed to the cabinet-maker John Cobb (d. 1778) of St. Martin's Lane, who was also famed at the period for his inlaid furniture (see Christie's Exhibition, Patronage Preserved, 3-20 January 1991, no. 22, p. 50). The laurel-festooned foliage, inlaid in the top, relates to the 'antique' style adopted in the 1770s by Thomas Chippendale Junior (d. 1822) and popularised through his pattern-book entitled Sketches of Ornament, 1779. Its French-fashioned pilasters terminating in trussed legs featured on a commode, with similar patera and festoon ornament, that was designed in 1767 by the Berkeley Square cabinet-maker John Linnell (d. 1796) and crafted by the Paris-trained 'inlayer' Christopher Furlohg (H. Hayward & P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London 1980, vol. II, figs. 108 and 109).

This commode belongs to a group of this distinctly French form, of which the most closely studied is one which may have been commissioned for the Curzon Street house built by the architect Robert Adam (d. 1792) for the Hon. Henry Frederick Thynne in the early 1770s and which is now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery (L. Wood, op. cit., pp. 135-141, no. 12). Lucy Wood tentatively suggests that the Thynne commode was made by an immigré craftsman, possibly French, because of non-English idiosyncracies in the construction, notably a double thickness top, as if the maker was more used to making commodes with marble tops. The present commode has fewer of these idiosyncracies, with its top veneered on deal, English drawer construction and horizontally planked back. However, it is stylistically very similar indeed in form and marquetry to Lever, no. 12, and shares the internal arrangement and handles precisely. The third commode in this specific sub-group is one formerly in the collection of Lord Wrottesley. The construction of the Wrottesley commode, detailed in Wood, loc. cit., is very like the present commode, and less French in style than no. 12.
Height 84.50 cm (33.27 inches)
Width 139.00 cm (54.72 inches)
Depth 56.50 cm (22.24 inches)
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Mallett & Son (Antiques) Ltd

Mallett & Son (Antiques) Ltd

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