The glossy golden-flowered cabinet for the display of porcelain, with its French-fashioned Chinese veneer cut from lacquered screens and its trompe l'oeil lacquer japanning, is conceived in the George II 'Modern' style advertised by Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-maker's Director, 1754. It features a bell-hung pagoda-roof above three compass-centred and tray-railed shelves; while more vases would have furnished the floor beneath its table-frame.
These cabinets served primarily for the display of porcelain tea-services in reception dressing-rooms that were fashionably hung in Chinese paper 'à la Français'. Called 'shelves for china', they supplanted the Chinese lacquered tray-on-stand, such as that acquired by the East India Company Director Sir Robert Child and inventoried many years later as an 'India Tea Table' in the floral 'Blue India Paper Dressing Room' at Osterley Park, Middlesex (see M. Tomlin, 'The 1782 Inventory of Osterley Park', Furniture History, 1986 p.114). A pair of prototype lacquer-panelled and japanned china-shelved night-tables was provided about 1750 by the Mayfair cabinet-makers Messrs. William and John Linnell and designed en suite with their temple-canopied bed, conveived in Chinese 'wedding kiosk' fashion for Badminton House, Gloucestershire (H. Hayward and P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980, figs. 218 and 1). The Linnells also introduced the 'double-braced' fret as seen on the lower tray-rails in their design for the tripartite and pagoda-crested backs of Badminton's bedroom chairs (see Hayward, ibid, vol 1, pl. 4).
The present china-shelves relate in particular to Linnells' lacquer-panelled shelves designed for the apartment created by the architect James Paine for Lady Curzon at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. While the latter's tiered pagoda roof was flanked by additional umbrello'd pillars, it shares the tripartite 'triumphal-arch' form with 'compass-fronted' bays, as well as the same frets in the front and side rails. With the Etruscan-black colouring and buffet-like display of forty four pieces of china, Lady Curzon's shelves continued in fashionable service in Kedleston's 'à la Français' State Dressing Room created by the architect Robert 'Bob the Roman' Adam (d. 1792) (Hayward, ibid., fig. 219; and the 1804 Kedleston Inventory in the possession of The National Trust).
Other closely related 'shelves for China' formed part of the collections of Georgian furniture and Chinese works assembled by the architect and interior decorator Basil Ionides and bibliophile Mrs Ionides, née Nellie Samuel (d.1962) at their London home in Berkeley Square and at Buxted Park, Sussex (sold by the late The Hon. Mrs Nellie Ionides, Sotheby's house sale, 31 May 1963, lot 185). The latter, lacked the pagoda roof, but shared the same pattern of frets at the side and in the 'commode' doors.