The 'commode' night-table, combining rich polychrome with golden fruitwood inlay and enrichments, is embellished in the antique/Grecian fashion adopted for grand French bedroom apartments and first introduced to mid-eighteenth century London by the Tottenham Court Road ébéniste Pierre Langlois (d.1767).
The inlaid top is gracefully serpentined in a cupid-bow with columnar corners, and celebrates the triumph of lyric poetry with its marquetry trophy displayed in a tablet, whose 'Etruscan' black-figured frame is wreathed by a mosaic-chequered 'Pan' reed. The trophy comprises the poetry-deity Apollo's palms flowering the Grecian Ionic volutes of a cartouche trophy, that is comprised of beribboned and acanthus-wrapped reeds. It echoes the ormolu bas-relief enrichments of the table's pilasters. The commode-doors display hollow-cornered tablets with Palmyreen sunflowered paterae suspended in lyre-scrolled and laurel-festooned cartouches; while their side tablets are flowered in medallion compartments of beribboned Roman acanthus. A laurelled sunflower patera suspends in the 'drawer' tablets, while its lambrequined apron is serpentined in a scalloped bow.
Langlois' beautifully illustrated trade-sheet of the 1750s, published in both French and English, advertised all sorts of related fine cabinets and commodes, 'made and inlaid in the Politest manner' or 'Inscrutez de fleurs en Bois et Marquetries garnies de Bronzes, doreez..'. It also featured a related bedroom-apartment 'vide poche' table, such as Langlois supplied in 1759 for the Duchess of Bedford, when it was described as being 'incrusti de fleurs de bois violette des indes [et ] enjolivie de ornament de bronze dorie' (P. Thornton and W. Rieder, 'Pierre Langlois, ébéniste, pt. I', Connoisseur, January, 1972 pp. 283-287). While the nature of the marquetry varies from known Langlois oeuvres, its idiosyncracies imply the hand of an emigrant cabinet-maker and its close similarity in overall form and decoration show a familiarity with work produced by Langois.
This table, intended to flank a stately bed, would have served as one of a pair of 'commode shaped night tables' and was originally fitted with a 'stool part to draw out'. It would have been commissioned en suite with a window pier 'commode-table', such as those dated to the 1760s and now in the Dashwood collection at West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire (ibid, pt. 4., May, 1972, Group XI, nos. A and B).