• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 7830

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

    21 January 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 84

    A GEORGE III SOLID ROSEWOOD BUREAU

    POSSIBLY BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, CIRCA 1770

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A GEORGE III SOLID ROSEWOOD BUREAU
    POSSIBLY BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, CIRCA 1770
    The hinged fall front revealing a fitted interior with six drawers and pigeon holes around a central cabinet, flanked by split columns concealing slides and with a further shallow drawer beneath, above four graduated drawers, on bracket feet with laminated blocks, with S-pattern keyholes throughout
    43¼ in. (110 cm.) high; 44 in. (112 cm.) wide; 20½ in. (52 cm.) deep


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    A combination of features of the rosewood bureau indicate the possibility of Thomas Chippendale as the maker, and the use of rosewood is consistent with a serpentine chest supplied by Chippendale to Sir Edward Knatchbull for Mersham le Hatch, Kent in 1768. The chest, invoiced as a 'neat Black Rosewood Commode with a Slider & Glass, and drawers with good Locks &c' was among the furnishings for Lady Knatchbull's Bedchamber while further rosewood furniture including 'Commode Cloths press', 'Commode Table' and 'Basonstand' were specified in Chippendale's second account for Mersham in 1769 (see C.Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, pp. 220 - 234, and vol. II, fig. 203). The bureau's richly figured rosewood reflects the fashion for Chinese hard woods promoted by the East India Companies; while the serpentined forms of the French picturesque style of the 1740s are reflected in its bracket feet, the arcaded pigeon holes of its interior prospect and the framing of the panel of its Tuscan-columned tabernacle compartment and fretted escutcheon. The drawers' serpentined handles are of a form lauded in 1760 as good, plain and strong by Richard Gillow (see S. E. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London, 2 vols. Woodbridge, 2008, vol 2 p.331) and which commonly feature in Chippendale's work, including the Mersham commode. The escutcheon of the bureau fall, intended for an S-bitted key, relates to those of a George III chest of drawers sold Christie's London, 24 November 2005 (lot 113). Such fine locks were favoured in particular by Thomas Chippendale (d.1778) and were a speciality of the Gascoigne family of St. James's (see C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, fig. 267).

    Special Notice

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