• The William F. Reilly Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 2273

    The William F. Reilly Collection

    14 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 219



    Price Realised  


    The dentil-carved cornice above cartouche-paneled doors and two short over a long drawer on ogee bracket feet, decorated throughout with Chinoiserie vignettes and animals, pulls and locks later, refreshments to decoration
    72½ in. (184 cm.) high, 53½ in. (136 cm.) wide, 25½ in. (65 cm.) deep

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    The characteristic design and japanned decoration of this clothes-press based on labeled examples within his workshop place it firmly within the production of Giles Grendey (d. 1780), cabinetmaker of St. John's Square, Clerkenwell. Grendey's output of lavish japanned furniture is well documented and his extensive commission of scarlet and gilt-japanned furniture supplied to the Duke of Infantado's castle at Lazcano, Spain, ranks among the most celebrated suites of eighteenth-century English furniture.

    The overall form of the clothes-press is similar to a labeled press in mahogany which has paneled doors to the lower section rather than drawers, illustrated in C. Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, London, 1996, p. 241, pl. 433. Another comparison is a linen-press with drawers to the lower section and with a dentilled cornice in the manner of Giles Grendey, sold anonymously, Christie's London, 3 July 1997, lot 51. However, it is the distinctive feature of the double serpentine shape to the paneled doors found on the clothes-press offered here which is directly comparable to a number of known Grendey pieces, including a labeled red and gilt-japanned bureau-cabinet from the Lazcano suite, illustrated in C. Gilbert, op.cit. p. 247, pl. 447.

    The dense and exotic nature of the japanning on the clothes-press is also directly related to pieces from the Lazcano suite. The specific motif of a processional scene of warriors holding banners and on horseback found on the left-hand door of the press is also found on the top of a card table from Lazcano, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This motif is found again on the slant-lid of a further red and gilt-japanned bureau-cabinet attributed to Grendey which was sold anonymously, Christie's New York, 22 April 1995, lot 375. Additionally, the large-scale figures to the interior of the doors and to the sides of the clothes-press compare closely in scale and character to those found on another bureau-cabinet from Lazcano which was sold anonymously, Christie's London, 7 July 1988, lot 129.

    Accounts in the Public Record Office indicate that England exported considerable quantities of furniture into Spain and Portugal in the first half of the eighteenth century. Grendey's participation in this trade is well documented, (see C. Gilbert, 'Furniture by Giles Grendey for the Spanish Trade, The Magazine Antiques, April 1971, pp. 544-550) and his production catered to the Spanish taste for opulent lacquer decoration. Among this output, the suite for Lazcano is best known. Seventy-two pieces from the collection were purchased by Adolph Loewi, an American dealing in Venice, in 1930, and many of these have made their way into public collections. Grendey clearly had a substantial export business as early as 1731, when a fire on his premises resulted in an enormous loss of 1,000 in furniture which he 'had pack'd for Exportation against the next Morning' (R.W. Symonds, 'Giles Grendey and the Export Trade of English Furniture to Spain', Apollo, 1935, pp. 337-342). While the destination for this clothes-press remains unidentified, it is possible that it was intended for export to a continental patron.


    with Glenn Randall, Inc. New York.
    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 16 October 1993, lot 354. Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 14 April 2000, lot 225.