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    Sale 2159

    19th Century Furniture, Sculpture, Works of Art and Ceramics

    21 April 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 296

    A MATCHED PAIR OF FRENCH ORMOLU-MOUNTED EBONY AND GILT-DECORATED BLACK LACQUER COMMODES A VANTAUX

    AFTER THE MODEL BY ADAM WEISWEILER, ONE ATTRIBUTED TO HENRY DASSON, CIRCA 1882, THE OTHER CIRCA 1903, ADAPTED FROM CABINETS-ON-STANDS, THE APRONS, FEET AND MARBLE TOPS AFTER 1959

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A MATCHED PAIR OF FRENCH ORMOLU-MOUNTED EBONY AND GILT-DECORATED BLACK LACQUER COMMODES A VANTAUX
    AFTER THE MODEL BY ADAM WEISWEILER, ONE ATTRIBUTED TO HENRY DASSON, CIRCA 1882, THE OTHER CIRCA 1903, ADAPTED FROM CABINETS-ON-STANDS, THE APRONS, FEET AND MARBLE TOPS AFTER 1959
    Each with an associated coquillier de Bilboa marble top above a foliate-cast breakfront frieze and central cupboard door opening to an interior shelf, the angles mounted with scantily-clad caryatids, on a later base with spirally fluted toupie feet; stamped with retailer's mark WHITE ALLOM & CO., the reverse of each stamped CM&W/19[...]; one commode stamped 'G' below Prince of Wales feathers, the other stamped 'M' below a crown, the reverse of each applied with a type-written paper label; one commode with PROPERTY OF THE LATE QUEEN MARY, the other with Property of his Majesty King George V
    37 5/8 in. (95.5 cm.) high; 64 5/8 in. (164.3 cm.) wide; 19¾ in. (50 cm.) deep (2)


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    Inspired by a secrétaire à abattant attributed to Adam Weisweiler and completed for Louis XVI's cabinet intérieur at Versailles, these commodes (one of which was originally conceived by Henry Dasson) were initially constructed as cabinets-on-stands and remained so during their installation in the Marlborough House collection of King George V and Queen Mary, then as Prince and Princess of Wales.

    Though previously believed to have been purchased directly from Dasson's Paris showroom by George V's predecessor, King Edward VII, the original cabinet-on-stand was almost certainly acquired by Queen Mary and George V following their relocation to Marlborough House in 1903. It is unlikely that that Edward VII purchased the cabinets given his well-documented preference for the English firms, Holland & Sons in particular, and his strict policy on 'warrant-holders'. In fact, it is said that Edward VII did his 'utmost to encourage home manufactures in every department - with the exception of Eastern Art work, the tapestry and Sèvres china, everything in Marlborough House, broadly speaking, is said to be of British make' (A.H. Beavan, Marlborough House and its Occupants Present and Past, London, 1896, pp. 55-56).

    Mary, known for her personally- and well-chosen objets d'art and antique furniture, effectively suspended the stringent requirements on 'warrant-holders', which principally required firms to supply the household satisfactorily for one year before acquiring a warrant. Under her instruction, an extensive refurbishment of Marlborough House followed, aided by the interior design firm of White, Allom & Co., who exclusively advised the Royal family during the first quarter of the 20th century and for whom the present commodes bear a retailer's stamp. It is very likely that the later, companion cabinet-on-stand was completed under the direction of the illustrious design firm.

    In 1959, six years following Queen Mary's death, Christie's London saleroom held an auction comprising a selection of decorations and furnishings sold by order of Queen Elizabeth II. The aforementioned cabinet-on-stands were offered and subsequently sold to a purchaser by the name of H. Davis for £661.10s (see Christie's London, Objects of Art, English and French Furniture, Curtains and Carpets from Marlborough House, sold by Order of Her Majesty the Queen, 1-2 October 1959, lot 180). However, it is presently not know when the cabinets were separated from their integral stands and converted to their present state.

    Interestingly, both stands, later fitted with 'russet' marble tops, were individually offered at public auction in the United Kingdom and United States in the 1990s. The first, bearing marks for George V and signed Henry Dasson 1882, appeared at Sotheby's London, 11 March 1994, lot 113 (£54,300). The second, with respective markings for Queen Mary and bearing the White, Allom & Co. retailer's stamp, appeared at Sotheby's New York, 5 November 1997, lot 326A ($64,500). Also of note are the indistinct branding marks, CM&W 19[...], mentioned in both sale catalogues and present on the commodes, which were later added upon their sale at Christie's in 1959, known then as Christie, Manson and Woods Ltd.

    Provenance

    Formerly in the collection of King George V and Queen Mary, as Prince and Princess of Wales, at Marlborough House
    Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd., London, Objects of Art, English and French Furniture, Curtains and Carpets from Marlborough House, sold by Order of Her Majesty the Queen, 1-2 October 1959, lot 180 (£661.10s).


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Estate of Leona M. Helmsley