Designed in the French-Grecian manner popularised by Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807, these plinth-supported side cabinets, with reeded-columnettes relate to patterns for 'Chiffoniers' and 'Drawing Room' pier tables published in George Smith's Collection of Designs for Household Furniture, 1808, pls. 114 and 122. The flowered palmette and columnettes relate to Hope's patterns for a pedestal and a candelabrum illustrated in T. Hope, op. cit., pls. 21 and 22.
Almost identical columns feature on a group of marble-topped bookcase-cabinets now at Stratfield Saye, Hampshire, of which one at least was recorded as early as 1931 in the formed collection of Lord Gerald Wellesley at 11 Titchfield Street (F. Collard, Regency Furniture, Woodbridge, 1985, p. 268). Lord Gerald subsequently, and unexpectedly, became the 7th Duke of Wellington and his collection merged with that of the 1st Duke of Wellington. In 1931 his collection was clearly influenced by that of the 1st Duke but is most likely to have been of his own formation as he was one of the earlier serious collectors of Regency furniture.
The possible connection with the 1st Duke of Wellington has led to a tentative connection between this group and the cabinet-maker Thomas Dowbiggin of Mount Street who supplied a large amount of furniture to Apsley House. A much more probable maker, on stylistic grounds, is James Newton. He labelled a suite of very similar chiffoniers sold from the collection of Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, Christie's, London, 25 March 1999, lots 320 (£28,750). Whilst the latter pair had their original bleu turquin marble tops and had originally been fitted with superstructures, it is possible that this pair was fitted with superstructures. A further pair of side cabinets almost en suite was sold anonymously, Christie's London, 21 April 2005 lot 209 (£43,200) and a pair of chiffonier side tables with bleu turquin tops with their original superstructures was sold anonymously, Christie's London 'Two Late Regency Collectors: Philip John Miles & George Byng', 9 June 2005, lot 48 (£16,800).
Established in Wardour Street in the late 1780s by James Newton Senior, the firm of James Newton and Son specialised in the prodcution of Regency furniture in the latest 'Grecian' taste, and their clients included the Earl of Exeter at Burghley House, Lincolnshire and the Lords Brownlow at Belton House, Lincolnshire. Newton's work is discussed by Giles Ellwood, 'James Newton', Furniture History, 1995, pp. 129-205.
There is also a small group of side cabinets with large Japanese lacquer panels in the centre flanked by identical columnettes and mounts to these chiffoniers. One was sold from the collection of J.R.D.S. Trelawney, Esq., Christie's London, 29 April 1965, lot 38. These lacquer-centred cabinets may possibly correspond to a type of which one was supplied by the Mount Street firm of Thomas Dowbiggin to Lord Willoughby at Drummond Castle in 1831, 'A Large Chinese Commode Mounted with Brass, 3 Drawers Enclosed by Doors with Marble Slab on the Top' (Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986, p. 253).