This writing-cabinet is a masterpiece of Irish 18th Century cabinet-making. It was almost certainly made for Sir Richard St George (1718-1789) of Woodsgift, Co. Kilkenny - a large three storey Palladian house that was sadly burnt in a fire before 1914 and has since been demolished. The porch from Woodsgift is now at Webbsborough near Kilkenny.
Presided over by Jupiter's winged eagle, between an architectural scrolled broken pediment, the mirrored doors on the cabinet would have served as pier glasses bringing more light into the room. The writing-section has a ratcheted slope with rising book-stop above an acanthus and strapwork carved apron which pulls forward with the front legs to reveal a sliding writing-surface above fitted compartments, including an outswinging ink-drawer. The underlying classical principles in its design are further seen in the profile medallion of a laurel-wreathed Roman worthy. Probably taken from a classical gem stone, possibly a Grand Tour souvenir, a similar medallion appears on the staircase frieze at Bishop Clayton's House, now part of Iveagh House, St Stephen's Green, Dublin (Irish Furniture, fig. 88).
There is a related writing-cabinet with marquetry inlay on the pediment at Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh (Irish Furniture, figs. 48-49), although it probably dates from ten years earlier than the St George writing-cabinet. Another writing-cabinet of similar form whose legs are headed by twin-headed dog or fox-like beasts, was sold anonymously, Sotheby's London, 16 November 2000, lot 279.
Although no cabinet-maker has so far been identified for this distinguished group, the cabinet section of the St. George cabinet is very close to that on the secretaire-cabinet attributed to Christopher Hearn and supplied in 1764 to Lady Elizabeth Cobbe for Newbridge House, Co. Dublin at a cost of /P11 17s 6d (Irish Furniture, fig. 163). Several characteristics are also shared with the group of architect's tables discussed in the Knight of Glin, op. cit., nos.165-167, including that supplied to Robert Cunningham, 1st Baron Rossmore (d.1801), another now in the National Museum of Ireland and a third sold from Stackallan, Co. Meath, Christie's House sale, 20 October 1992, lot 153. Similarly, the distinctive Roman Emperor profile medallion is also seen on the Cabinteely table (no.119).