The handsome 'commode-secretaire', wreathed in reeds to evoke the poets' Pan-governed Arcadian paradise, is designed in the restrained George III French antique or Modern fashion introduced in the 1760s by the St. Martin's Lane firm of Thomas Chippendale (d. 1789). Its open cornice may have been intended for a garniture of 'antique' urns, in keeping with the Roman Etruscan 'columbarium' fashion popularised by the Rome-trained court architect Robert Adam (d. 1792). Appropriately the chest façade is mosaic-parquetried, in Roman pavement fashion, to display superb marble-figured mahogany in hollow-corned tablets, and their frames of trompe l'oiel antique bronze reeds are sculpted in Etruscan-black ebony. The silken-figured tablets of the drawer-nests, incorporated in its Grecian plinth-supported commode-chest, are likewise enriched by golden bronze reed handles and these festoon from Roman medallioned 'patera' plates that are wreathed in Etruscan-fashioned 'Venus' pearl-strings.
Amongst related furniture executed by Thomas Chippendale, celebrated author of, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, (3 vols 1754-1762), is a clothes-press commissioned in 1774 for Paxton, Scotland (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, fig. 248). This fashionable and well-apportioned cabinet would have been designed to harmonise with such bedroom-apartment furniture and suited a Gentleman's Dressing-Room that also served as a Morning Cabinet Room.
The chest, evolved from the 17th century 'escritoire' document-chest, with its hinged 'fall' front concealing a leather 'writing-table', while brass 'security' flanges incorporated at the side-edges are concealed by bronzed cartouches of Roman acanthus. The secretaire 'prospect' has writing-equipment drawers incorporated beneath ogival-scrolled and triumphal-arched 'commode' doors; and their secured paper 'pigeon-holes' are suitably 'antique' labelled by 'Etruscan' black and white medallioned alphabet-plates.