CIRCA 1755

Circa 1755
The serpentine molded top with re-entrant corners above a conforming banded case with three long drawers, the acanthus-carved apron with central rocaille cabochon and S-scroll molded edge on a trellis ground, on cabriole legs headed by acanthus clasps above acanthus-wrapped scrolled toes, with pierced asymmetrical escutcheons and backplates and carry handles to the sides
32¼in. (82cm.) high, 41in. (104cm.) wide, 22½in. (57cm.) deep
With Blairman and Sons Ltd., London, circa 1953.
The property of a Gentleman, sold in these Rooms, 26 October 1985, lot 145 ($22,000).
M. Jourdain and F. Rose, English Furntiure: The Georgian Period (1750-1830), London, 1953, p.143, fig.108.

Lot Essay

This commode, with its unusual banded case with re-entrant corners, clasped acanthus-carved cabriole legs and trellis ground cabochon-enriched apron most closely relates to an example sold by the celebrated collector Samuel Messer, Esq., Christie's London, 5 December 1991, lot 106 (£88,000). Designed in the French manner, the picturesque ornament including the scalloped embossment or cartouche, floral-trellis pattern ground and Roman acanthus reflects the influence of the St. Martin's Lane Academy, established by William Hogarth whose publication, The Line of Beauty, 1753, praised the serpentine line as most appropriate for furnishings. The Academy, where the French artist Hubert Gravelot taught, provided the training ground for the pre-eminent architect/designer James Paine (d.1789). Interestingly, a commode of this form (lacking the banded case), also from the Messer sale (lot 105), was almost certainly commissioned by one of Paine's patrons, 2nd Viscount Galway for Serlby Hall, Nottinghamshire. It is conceivable that Chippendale, who published similar patterns for 'French Commode Tables' in his The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director' 1754, may have supplied this commode working under the employ of Paine. Certainly Paine was a subscriber to The Director and occupied premises directly opposite Chippendale. In fact, it was Paine who encouraged the latter to move from Yorkshire to London in 1754 possibly affirming a respectful working relationship. Another pair of Messer commodes (lot 104), previously acquired by E.B. Moller, Esq. under the advise of the noted historian/architect R.W. Symonds, shares the same metalwork scroll-looped handles with openwork plates. These mounts feature on some of Chippendale's documented commodes, such as that supplied for Goldsborough Hall (see C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, pp.127 and 147, figs. 226 and 270). This metalwork pattern is included in an 18th century trade metalwork pattern-book, nos.'1480' and '1483', reproduced in Furniture History, 1975, pl.22.

Other commodes of this distinctive form, although lacking the ribbon-banded case, include: one illustrated in C. Claxton Stevens and S. Whittington, 18th Century English Furniture: The Norman Adams Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1983, pp.374-375; another, the property of a Lady, sold Christie's London, 17 November 1988, lot 160 (£28,600); and a further example sold by the noted collector H.J. Joel, Esq., Childwick Bury, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, Christie's London, 15 May 1978, lot 101.

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