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A PAIR OF GEORGE III LACQUERED-BRASS MOUNTED HAREWOOD, HOLLY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD MARQUETRY COMMODES
A PAIR OF GEORGE III LACQUERED-BRASS MOUNTED HAREWOOD, HOLLY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD MARQUETRY COMMODES
A PAIR OF GEORGE III LACQUERED-BRASS MOUNTED HAREWOOD, HOLLY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD MARQUETRY COMMODES
A PAIR OF GEORGE III LACQUERED-BRASS MOUNTED HAREWOOD, HOLLY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD MARQUETRY COMMODES
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A PAIR OF GEORGE III LACQUERED-BRASS MOUNTED HAREWOOD, HOLLY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD MARQUETRY COMMODES

ATTRIBUTED TO MAYHEW AND INCE, CIRCA 1775

Details
A PAIR OF GEORGE III LACQUERED-BRASS MOUNTED HAREWOOD, HOLLY, AMARANTH AND TULIPWOOD MARQUETRY COMMODES
ATTRIBUTED TO MAYHEW AND INCE, CIRCA 1775
Each serpentine top inlaid with scrolling flowers, above two drawers veneered to simulate a single panel inlaid with a flower-filled basket suspended from husk garlands, the stiles and tapering legs inlaid with pendant husks, each with a small label typed DR
35 in. (89 cm.) high, 38 ¾ in. (98.5 cm.) wide, 19 ¾ in. (50 cm.) deep
Provenance
With Frank Partridge, New York.
Acquired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1922
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 1922-1960, formerly at Kykuit.
Estate of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., acquired May 1963.
Literature
D. Fennimore et al., The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Decorative Arts, New York, 1992, vol. IV, pp. 302-303, no. 317.
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Lot Essay

This pair of commodes was in Mother's sitting room on the second floor at Kykuit... They are among the finest pieces of furniture we own and look very well in the small hall outside the library at Hudson Pines.
D. R.

These fine George III commodes have characteristics of some of the leading 18th century London cabinet-making firms, including John Cobb and John Linnell, but perhaps most strongly Mayhew and Ince.
The overall form suggests that the commodes were made in the transitional period between the rococo and neoclassical styles. The form, though somewhat serpentine has straight squared legs. The motifs in the marquetry are also neoclassical, and yet exhibit a somewhat free ‘rococo’ hand.
Each top of the table is centered by a lily of the valley floral spray and flanked by garlands of roses. The lily of the valley is also included in the basket of flowering foliage to the fronts of the commodes. Symbolically, the lily of the valley motif can be interpreted as directly related to the Tree of Life planted in the Garden of Eden. Since it is the lily denoting Christ, it symbolizes the restoration of pure life, the promise of immortality, and salvation. The lily of the valley motif and floral garland motifs were probably derived from French print sources of the mid-18th century and similar bouquets are seen in the marquetry of Parisian ébénistes of the 1760s.
The overall hand of the marquetry is similar to that on a group of commodes traditionally attributed to Mayhew and Ince including one from the collection of Olaf Hambro, of Linton Park, sold most recently, Christie’s, London, 5 July 1990, lot 141; one from the collection of Martin Summers (illustrated, Anthony Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, pl. 45); one formerly in the collection of Lady Russell (illustrated, Percy Macquoid, The Age of Satinwood, London 1908, pl. 11); one in the collection of the late Margharita, Lady Howard de Walden, sold Sotheby’s, London, 2 December 1977, lot 93; one in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (illustrated, Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1924, vol. II, p. 136, fig. 15 and in Anthony Coleridge, op. cit. pl. 43); one in the collection of Sir Michael Sobell (the top illustrated in Anthony Coleridge, op. cit. pl. 44); and especially to one which was with Hotspur Ltd. (illustrated, Goodison and Kern, Hotspur: Eighty Years of Antiques Dealing, London, 2004, pp. 224-25).
Like to the present commodes, the Hotspur commode, has draped husk swags which pierce the cross-banded borders. The handling of the roses in the marquetry is also incredibly similar. It is interesting that the present commodes have a rococo style foliate escutcheon at the center of the fluted frieze. This escutcheon is nearly identical to those found on the group of aforementioned commodes.
The use of draped husks is not exclusive to Mayhew and Ince. This marquetry is very similar to that on a commode and two pedestals at Corsham Court supplied by John Cobb in 1772 for Paul Metheun which have become seminal to his identification as a maker of the highest quality furniture, often incorporating a variety of exotic timbers (Lucy Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London: HMSO, 1994, p. 91, figs. 75-77). A group of commodes has very similar marquetry including one from the collections of Lord Tweedmouth, Col. Mulliner and Lord Lever, ibid., p. 93, figs. 81-82, Lord Leverhulme and Lord Henry Thynne, ibid., p. 94, figs. 83-85, and Lord Leverhulme and Captain Herbert H. Wilson, ibid., figs. 86-87. Once again, these motifs are derived from the paintings and designs of French artists and architects, such as Greuze, Vien and Neufforge and seen in the marquetry furniture of Oeben and Garnier. These commodes show that Cobb, like Mayhew and Ince, draw the bow-tied ribbons piercing the cross-banding, a motif shared with the present commodes.
The commodes are very similar to a pair of side tables from the Collection of Patricia Kluge, sold Sotheby’s house sale, 8-9 June, 2010, lot 102, and to a pair of side tables without mounts but with seemingly identical marquetry to the frieze and legs was sold, Anderson Art Association Anderson Galleries Inc., The Contents of Ophir Hall, Residence of Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, May 14-18, 1935, lot 637. A larger single table was advertised by Frank Partridge in Country Life, April 12, 1919, p. iv, with a large marquetry urn to the top, the frieze and legs with almost identical marquetry, the legs cuffed at the bottom. Whilst this group has draped husk swags, they also have almost identical oval flower-head patera to the present commodes. It is also interesting that the marquetry of the legs of these tables continues through the lacquered brass collars. Lastly, these tables have beautiful lily of the valley floral sprays to the tops and the shape of the frieze of these tables and the cross-banded edges are identical to the present commodes. It is arguable that the cabinet-maker who made these tables also may have made the commodes.
Another possibility is an attribution of John Linnell (1729-96), one of the leading London upholsterers and cabinet-makers of the period, in conjunction with Christopher Fuhrlogh (1737-circa 1787), a Paris-trained cabinet-maker from Sweden. Fuhrlogh probably joined Linnell’s firm in either 1766 or 1767 after having spent almost a year in Paris in the circle around the just-deceased Jean Francois Oeben (1721-63) and his younger brother Simon (circa 1725-86) (L. Wood, ‘A Bonheur-du-jour at Stourhead: the work of John Linnell and Christopher Fuhrlohg’, Furniture History, vol. 43, 2007, p. 59). Between 1771 and 1772, Fuhrlogh left the Linnell workshop to set up his own cabinet-making business but thereafter the pair evidently collaborated on a number of pieces.
Linnell executed a number of ‘French’ transitional form commodes combined with neoclassical and rococo ornamentation, together with the use of striking contrasting veneers. The pictorial marquetry within a central dark ground cartouche is similar to that of a commode attributed to Linnell, circa 1765-70, now in The Lady Lever Art Gallery (H. Hayward, P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980, p. 52, fig. 107). This motif was used on a pair of ‘French’ Louis XV style serpentine and marquetry commodes discussed in Hayward, ‘A Fine Pair of Commodes by John Linnell’, Partridge Summer Exhibition Catalogue, 1985, pp.30-2, 50-51, and sold Sotheby’s, London, 8 December 2004, lot 24.
The inclusion of naturalistic floral and foliate marquetry in Linnell’s characteristic painterly style ‘where he creates the impression of drawing the picture freehand, directly into the wood’ (Wood, op. cit., p. 59) is very similar to the free hand that executed the marquetry on the present commodes. The overall marquetry is similar in feel to a pair of marquetry commodes by Linnell, made for Robert Child, circa 1765 (Hayward, Kirkham, op. cit., p. 51, fig. 104). Furthermore, the flower-filled basket inlaid into the centers of these commodes seems to be a recurring motif in Linnell’s work, and appears on much of the firm’s carved giltwood overmantel and pier glasses, such as on Lady Coventry’s Dressing Mirror, sold Christie’s, London, 23 May 2012, lot 100.
Lastly, the inclusion of marquetry fluting flanked by oval paterae on these commodes is very similar to that on a pair of card-tables made for Alnwick Castle, circa 1765 (ibid., p. 141, fig. 279) and to a pair of card-tables at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire (NT 108607.1; 2).
John Mayhew and William Ince’s partnership was described 'one of the most significant, probably the longest lived but, as far as identified furniture is concerned, the least well documented of any of the major London cabinetmakers of the 18th century' (Beard and Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986). John Cobb (circa 1715-1778) entered into partnership with the elder William Vile, the Royal cabinet-maker in 1751. He married Sukey Grendey in 1755 and became the son-in-law of the celebrated cabinet-maker Giles Grendey. Cobb continued in business for thirteen years after Vile's retirement in 1764. John Linnell was the eldest son of cabinet-maker William Linnell who encouraged his son’s talent early on, sending him to the St. Martin’s Lane school where he studied the new rococo style. John Linnell joined his father in business in 1754, assuming leadership of the business in 1763 after his father’s demise.

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