This chest was bought by John Parry exactly one week before the sale at Christie's of his first collection, which was held on 24 April 1997. This purchase, which might seem unusual given the timing, demonstrated the enduring power of collecting and how, even at the moment of dispersal, when a great work of art appears on the market, the collectors of the best are drawn to it.
The term bachelor's chest refers to a shallow chest-of-drawers with a hinged top, usually enclosing a veneered surface. The top is usually supported by a pair of lopers placed to either side of the top drawer and is used for writing on, or as a dressing-table. The small size of the bachelor's chest suggests that it was designed as a piece of bedroom furniture, perhaps to fit in the window pier, to benefit from the daylight. The term 'bachelor's chest' was not used in the 18th century which has made identifying such chests in 18th century inventories difficult. The inventory of Sherborne House, Dorset of 1726 lists '2 folding walnut dressing tables drawers to the bottum [sic]' in a bedchamber and in another closet a 'walnut dressing Table to fold up with drawers to bottum [sic]' (A. Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, pp. 105-106). Sherborne House was a Tudor house purchased by Henry Seymour Portman in 1720 and remodelled in the neo-Palladian manner by Benjamin Bastard of Blandford. The Hall contains a magnificent mural by Sir James Thornhill (d. 1734).