A GEORGE II SCARLET AND GILT JAPANNED BUREAU-CABINET
A GEORGE II SCARLET AND GILT JAPANNED BUREAU-CABINET
A GEORGE II SCARLET AND GILT JAPANNED BUREAU-CABINET
A GEORGE II SCARLET AND GILT JAPANNED BUREAU-CABINET
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Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
A GEORGE II SCARLET AND GILT JAPANNED BUREAU-CABINET

ATTRIBUTED TO GILES GRENDEY, CIRCA 1740

Details
A GEORGE II SCARLET AND GILT JAPANNED BUREAU-CABINET
ATTRIBUTED TO GILES GRENDEY, CIRCA 1740
The molded swan's neck cresting with three urn-form finials above a frieze decorated with strapwork and foliate scrolls centering an open shell over a pair of panelled doors centering chinoiserie figures with mirrored panels enclosing an arched panelled door flanked by fluted columnar drawers, small drawers, pigeonholes and folio slides above two candle slides, the slightly bombé base with slant-lid enclosing drawers and pigeonholes above four graduated long drawers on shaped bracket feet, decorated overall with chinoiserie figures occupied in various pursuits within pavilions and gardens, mythical beasts, birds and flowers, mirror plates and finials replaced, decoration refreshed
96 ½ in. (245 cm.) high, 42 ½ in. (107.5 cm.) wide, 26 in. (66 cm.) deep
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 17 October 1997, lot 304.
Special notice

Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Lot Essay

This impressive bureau-cabinet would have been a significant commission by a patron entranced by the exotic art of the East. Attributed to Giles Grendey (1693-1780), the prolific cabinetmaker of St. John's Square, Clerkenwell, London, it shares distinctive ornamentation and designs with important and lavishly japanned examples from his workshop.

Grendey ran a substantial business from 1726 when he took on his first apprentices until at least the late 1760s; in 1766 he was appointed Master of the Joiners' Company. Described at his wife's death as a 'great Dealer in the Cabinet way', in 1755 at the time of his daughter's marriage to the Royal cabinet-maker, John Cobb (d. 1778), he was referred to as an 'eminent Timber Merchant'. While few payments to him have been traced in country house archives, he supplied a good number of walnut and mahogany pieces to aristocratic houses including Longford Castle, Stourhead and Barn Elms.

Grendey was also deeply involved in the timber and export business, which may have led to his production of japanned furniture for the export trade, notably for the Iberian peninsula where such work was much in demand. His most celebrated commission was the extensive suite of more than seventy-seven scarlet-japanned items including seat furniture en suite with 'pier-set' card-tables, mirrors and secretaire-cabinets, supplied around 1740 for the Duke of Infantado's Spanish castle at Lazcano in northern Spain. This ranks among the most celebrated suites of eighteenth century English furniture with many of the pieces from this suite now in public collections.

Accounts in the Public Record Office indicate that England exported considerable quantities of furniture to Spain and Portugal in the first half of the eighteenth century. Grendey clearly had a substantial export business as early as 1731, when a fire on his premises resulted in an enormous loss of £1,000 in furniture which he 'had pack'd for Exportation against the next Morning' (R. W. Symonds, 'Giles Grendey and the Export Trade of English Furniture to Spain', Apollo, 1935, pp. 337-342). Recently discovered labeled mirrors in Norway also indicate that Grendey exported goods to Scandinavia.

A comparison of this cabinet to pieces from the Lazcano suite shows a striking similarity in decoration which combines large scale figures, fantastical beasts, shells, strapwork and diapered panels. The card table at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, reproduced in H. Huth, Lacquer of the West, 1971, pl. 66-67, and chairs from the suite illustrated in C. Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, 1996, p. 248, pl. 448, demonstrate these similarities. The cabinet's serpentined cornice relates to bureau-cabinets from the suite which appear in a Victorian photograph of the Saloon at Lazcano. While this cabinet cannot be traced to the Lazcano suite, it was most likely intended for export to a continental patron.

As a type of furniture, the bureau-cabinet was developed in England at the end of the 17th century, but it soon found favor in many countries in both North and South Europe, with the notable exception of France. The English influence was further felt in Continental Europe after the Treatise on Japanning was published in England in 1668 by Messrs. Stalker and Parker, which provided a series of images appropriate for artists imitating Eastern lacquer. In Dresden, the bureau-cabinet came to be known as an Englischer Schreibschrank and soon became the most important piece in the cabinet-makers oeuvre, although it was likely that many examples were still made in England by Grendey and other cabinet-makers and transported abroad.

The form, with its serpentined 'sarcophagus' chest, vase-capped pediment and brass mounts most closely relates to another example from the estate of Mrs. Diego Suarez, sold Christie’s, New York, 7 June 1980, lot 172 and again, Sotheby's, New York, 25 January 1997, lot 221. Another of this form was sold Christie's, Madrid, 16-17 May 1974 (illustrated in Christie's Review of the Season 1974, p. 415). Other related japanned cabinets attributed to the Grendey workshop include an example sold Christie’s, New York, 21-22 April 1995, lot 375, and another reputedly from the Lazcano collection, sold Christie's, London, 7 July 1988, lot 129. A lacquered bureau-cabinet with base of bombé form and a matching serpentine commode by Grendey in the Gordon and Ann Getty Residence, San Francisco are illustrated in D. D. Saeks, Ann Getty, Interior Style, New York, 2012, pp. 28-29, 32-33. These pieces had previously been in an Italian collection, demonstrating again the attraction of Grendey’s dazzling lacquer work to foreign clients (sold from the Durazzo-Pallavicini and Negretto-Cambiaso collection, Castello di Arenzano; Christie's, Milan, 5 October 1979, lots 354 and 388).

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