• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7700

    Important English Furniture and Clocks

    22 January 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 110



    Price Realised  

    Each crossbanded overall in amaranth, the shaped top centred by a musical trophy in a pearled border, flanked by ribbon-tied arabesques and foliage above a mahogany-lined frieze drawer with original handles draped with foliage, above a pair of doors with foliage amid arabesques, enclosing a single shelf, the sides with conforming decoration, on square tapering legs with spade feet veneered in rosewood, both cabinets with a Fortt, Hatt and Billings depository label, one cabinet with two further labels, one marked LOT 66, the other marked 'SOTHEBY'S LOT 110', one lock incised indistinctly, the handles' straps replaced and previously threaded
    36¼ in. (92 cm.) high; 49¾ in. (126.5 cm.) wide; 14¼ in. (37 cm.) deep (2)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    These colourfully japanned 'Adam' window-pier 'commode-tables' reflect the Roman Etruscan style of fashionable George III drawing rooms and apartments introduced by the court architect Robert Adam (d. 1792) and popularised by the engraving of his 'Derby' commode in The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1774 (vol. II, No. 1, pl.8) and by designs executted by Messrs Gillow of London and Lancaster such as one executed for John Christian for Workington Hall in 1788 (L. Boynton, Gillow Furniture Designs, 1760-1800, Royston, 1995, colour plate 12, p. 180).

    While Adam's Rome-trained style suffered criticism around 1800 from enthusiasts for the Arts of Greece, it continued to be appreciated throughout the 19th century as noted in 1815 by Sir John Soane, when he wrote 'To Mr. Adam's taste in the Ornaments of his Buildings, and Furniture, we stand indebted, in-as-much as Manufacturers of every kind felt, as it were, the electric power of this Revolution in Art' (quoted E. Harris, The Genius of Robert Adam, London, 2001, p.17).

    The tops of these elliptically curved commodes are japanned in celebration of lyric poetry with pearled and laurel-sprigged medallions, that depict pastoral music trophies in grisaille on a Grecian bronze-green ground. The commode doors, beneath the flower-festooned table-friezes, display medallioned floral bouquets framed in antique foliage; while the sides are ribbon-hung with 'picturesque' pastoral music trophies festooned in fruit and flowers to symbolise Peace and Plenty.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Sotheby's, London, 25 July 1969, lot 96 (withdrawn).
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 5 November 1971, lot 101.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 19 April 1974, lot 92A.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 14 November 1980, lot 66.