Stylistic and constructional traits on this commode feature in the documented and attributed work of cabinet-maker Henry Hill of Marlborough, Wiltshire (active from circa 1740 until his death in 1778). The fine, book matched veneers, distinctive scalloped apron and the continuous ormolu mounts to the side angles appear on several commodes in the Lady Lever Art Gallery attributed to Hill and discussed by Lucy Wood in her Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, no. 4, pp. 64-73. Some, including the present piece, also share identical constructional features such as the use of pine bottomed drawers covered with blue lining paper as well as the more unusual continuation of the cockbeading on the drawer sides to cover the dovetails (op. cit., p. 66, fig. VI).
This elegant commode is designed in the George III 'picturesque' fashion, and evolved from 'French Commode Table' patterns in Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754 (pls. XLIII and XLV).
Though Hill's furniture commissions were largely from Wiltshire families, they were among some of the most sophisticated patrons of the era. Payments amounting to £227.10s.3d from the 9th Duke of Somerset in 1770-71 could have included the marquetry commode supplied for Maiden Bradley (ibid, p. 71, fig. 55) as well as a practically identical example attributed to Hill and sold by the 9th Duke's descendents at Christie's, London, 28 November 2002, lot 120. Paul Methuen of Corsham Court was another patron whose purchases from 1764 and 1771 included '2 Mahogany French Commodes banded with Rose Wood and wrought brass Corners a £13 13s.' (L. Wood, 'Furniture for Lord Delaval,' Furniture History, 1993, p. 206). The most documented commissions were for Sir John, later Lord Delaval (d. 1808), who was also a patron of the royal cabinet-marker John Cobb (d. 1778). Delaval was unique in that his commissions were for his London house. Correspondence between Hill and Delaval includes three separate proposals, which outline specific options for commodes and most likely had design sketches. Further correspondence and banking records show that two proposals resulted in specific commissions for two commodes as well as two wardrobes delivered in November and December 1776 which have as yet to be identified (ibid, pp.203-4).
Related examples attributed to Hill have been sold from the Norman Adams Collection, Sotheby's, London, 21 April 2009, lot 84, the Collection of Patricia Kluge, Sotheby's House Sale, 9 June 2010, lot 476, and Christie's, New York, 21-22 October 2010, lot 10.
The handle-plates are recorded in an 18th Century Birmingham metal-worker's pattern book (T.R. Crom, An Eighteenth Century English Brass Hardware Catalogue. Florida, 1994, p. 46). This pattern was favored by Thomas Chippendale (d. 1779) for the secretaire bookcase supplied in 1764 for Aske Hall, Yorkshire (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, figs. 87 and 265).