The bureau-dressing-table, designed in the George II 'Roman' fashion and intended for a lady's dressing-room combines a bureau writing-table with hinged flap above drawers fitted with compartments for brushes and powder boxes for a lady's 'necessary equipage'. It was originally also fitted with a dressing-mirror, as in the case of another bureau in the Griffiths collection, and which was sold in the 1939 sale as 242.
Such pieces were termed union suites, a name used by the Frith Street cabinet-maker John Hodson in 1739. He repaired two japanned 'Union suits' for the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle and made a black stained pearwood stand 'for ye Union suits to stand on ...' (A. Coleridge, 'John Hodson and some cabinet-makers at Blair Castle', Connoisseur, April, 1963, p. 230, fig. 15). Another bureau featuring lion masks to the legs and paw feet was in the collection of Henry Hirsch Esq., sold Christie's, London, 10-11 June 1931, lot 66, and, like the present lot, was illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London 1954, vol.I, p.125 and 131, fig.18.
PERRCIVAL GRIFFITHS & R.W.SYMONDS
The collection formed by Percival D. Griffiths, F.S.A (d. 1938) under the wise counsel of R. W. Symonds is considered to be arguably the greatest collection of English Furniture formed in the last century. Indeed, it was Griffiths' collection that provided the content for Symonds' seminal work English Furniture from Charles II to George II, 1929. The interiors at Sandridgebury are happily recalled in 'Sandridgebury: The Country Residence of Percival D. Griffiths', published by Symonds in Antiques, March 1931, pp. 193-196. Symonds later published 'Percival Griffiths, F.S.A.: A Memoir on a Great Collector of English Furniture', The Antique Collector, November-December 1943, pp. 163-169. His collection has come to be recognised as a bench mark of excellence in the arena of collecting early to mid-18th century walnut and mahogany furniture and is discussed by E. Lennox-Boyd, 'Introduction: Collecting in the Symonds Tradition', Lennox-Boyd, Masterpieces of English Furniture, The Gerstenfeld Collection, pp. 12-31.
SIR WILLIAM SEEDS, KCMG
Sir William Seeds (d.1973) was an Irish born career diplomat who served as Ambassador to Brazil (1930-35) and Russia (1939-40). He was awarded KCMG in 1930. Sir William accumulated a notable collection of Chinese and Russian works of art including a Carl Fabergé diamond-mounted gold and enamelled presentation box which is now in the collection of The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.