This marquetry commode can be attributed to Langlois based on a number of comparable commodes discussed and illustrated in P. Thornton and W. Rieder, 'Pierre Langlois, Ebéniste', I. II, III & IV, Connoisseur, Vol. 177, December 1971, vol. 179, February, March, April & May 1972, pp. 105-112, 178, 283-88. The commode shares common features with documented commodes by Langlois. The bombé serpentine form, shaped apron and double door front arrangement of the design are all typical of commodes by Langlois. A commode supplied to the Earl of Coventry at Croome Court in 1764, signed by Langlois, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York shares the above listed features (ibid, Part III, p. 1, fig. 1.) The marquetry decoration of the commode is typical of Langlois. Notably the marquetry features on the top of the commode, in the English manner, a preference which Langlois adopted rather than complying with the French tradition of incorporating a marble top. The type of gilt-bronze foliate mounts on the commode are common in Langlois' oeuvre - they are thought to the work of Dominique Jean, who produced gilt-mounts for Langlois in great quantities and is believed to have been Langlois' son-in-law (see N. Goodison, 'Langlois and Dominique', Furniture History, Vol. IV, 1968, p. 106). Another typical Langlois trait of this commode are the black and red washes on its carcase - Langlois often used washes, such as painting the back of his commodes in black, in order to hide the poorer quality of the carcase wood. The back of this commode is composed of two chamfered panels, another characteristic of Langlois' carcase construction (ibid, Part II, p. 107-8).
PIERRE LANGLOIS IN THE 1760S
During the early years of King George III's reign, the Tottenham Court Road ébéniste and specialist 'inlayer', Pierre Langlois (d.1767) introduced the fashion for this style of serpentined commode, enriched with golden acanthus-scroll mounts and inlaid all-over with trompe l'oeil panels of baskets and ribbon-tied poesies of flowers, in the Louis XV 'picturesque' manner. A French cabinet-maker, Langlois had established himself in England by 1759. His most significant patrons included John Russell, fourth Duke of Bedford, for whom he was supplying furniture for as early as 1759, and George William, sixth Earl of Coventry for whom he supplied furniture at Croome Court, Worcestershire. Langlois' trade-card advertised the fact that he specialised in furniture with floral inlay 'inscrutez de fleurs en Bois' and illustrated a marquetry serpentine commode with putti resting upon it. This type of commode was to become his speciality: Matthew Boulton noted in his 1769 diary Langlois' sign of 'commode tables' outside his Tottenham Court Road premises.
Looking closer at the detailed features of this commode it is possible to attribute it to a slightly later period of Langlois' workshop production. Early pieces such as the commode at Woburn Abbey Langlois supplied to the Duke of Bedford in 1760 displays a bolder bombé shape, a more elaborate style of marquetry decoration contained within foliate gilt-bronze borders and heavier, more ornate foliate mounts with Langlois' renowned Brussels sprout-like protuberances issuing from the corner mounts. This commode is a more sober and neoclassically-inspired adaptation of Langlois' speciality. Langlois' house style developed into the 1770s away from the rather ponderous but magnificent forms of his early 'English' manner, in a direction that conformed more closely to the new taste that preferred less flamboyant lineaments and cooler ornament in the classical vein. Accordingly this commode is of a less exaggerated from, with the marquetry decoration on its doors contained within angular banded borders. This type of restrained decoration features on a commode from Holland House, now at Melbury House, Dorset supplied to Langlois by Lady Holland (ibid, Part 3, figs. 14 & 15). It is probably later in date than the documented 'two beauties in the salon' she mentioned in her letter of 21 March 1763, as it is grouped by Thornton and Rieder as belonging to a group of commodes with features in common with a well-known commode supplied by Langlois to Paul Methuen at Corsham Court, Wiltshire in 1772 ( ibid, Part 3, p. 179 & Part 5, p. 32).
The shape of the apron on the current lot follows a simple curve - far simpler than the detailed shaping on the Croome Court example. Other elements appear to be simplified too, such as the mounts which are restrained with a small, feathered trimming connecting the corner mounts to the scroll feet. Versions of this lighter design of corner mount are found on a pair of commodes sold by H. Blairman & Sons, London, 1978 (ibid Part 3, fig. 6) and on a commode from the Leverhulme Collection, at Messrs Howard Antiques, London, 1968 (ibid, Part 4, figs 7 & 8). These mounts were a popular model and they may well have been produced as a stock model by Dominique Jean, who could have sold them to other cabinet-makers as well as Langlois. In addition the Leverhulme commode shares a very similar style of marquetry decoration to the current lot. Both commodes' doors display restrained sprigs of flowers whilst the tops have flowering baskets contained within a scrolled cartouche, flanked by a small sprig of flowers to each side.
The closest comparison to this commode to have sold recently is an early George III kingwood, parquetry and marquetry commode, attributed to Pierre Langlois, sold by the late Judge Coles, Q.C, Bolney Lodge, Toovey's house sale, 10 October 2006, lot 68 (£160,000).