This magnificent pair of French style side cabinets with Chinese lacquer panels and Grecian lion-paw feet are Victorian antiquarian copies of Regency furniture reflecting the eclectic fashion for decorative art in 'the Chinese Taste' endorsed by George IV (d. 1830) when Prince Regent; the most extravagant examples were in the South Drawing Room of the former royal residence, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton (J. Morley, The Making of the Royal Pavilion Brighton, London, 1984, pp. 30-31). Another very similar Regency chiffonnier-commode again from the Royal Pavilion is illustrated in C. Musgrave, Regency Furniture 1800 to 1830 (London, 1961, fig. 25).
When featured in Margaret Jourdain's Regency Furniture 1795-1830 (op.cit.), this commode was erroneously described as Regency, but was in fact constructed at a later date in the Regency style. It was photographed in 1938 in the Music Room at Belgrave Square (Hussey, op. cit.). A resurgence of the Regency style flourished in the years following the First World War and the interiors of 5 Belgrave Square, a property that played a central role in London's political and social life, were considered outstanding, albeit that the furniture was a mélange of different dates (Musgrave, op. cit., p. 28). One of Channon's guests, Harold Nicolson, could scarcely contain his astonishment when he wrote, 'Oh my God, how rich and powerful Lord Channon has become! The house is all Regency upstairs with very carefully draped curtains and Madame Recamier sofas. Then the dining-room, baroque and rococo and what-ho and oh-no-no and all that. Very fine indeed' (Roger Wilkes, 'Inside story: what a party swell', The Telegraph, 6 February 2002).
The paper label inscribed 'The property of Hon. A. Lowther' possibly refers to Captain Hon. Anthony George Lowther (d. 1981), the youngest son of Viscount Lowther (d. 1949), who resided at Whitbysteads, Cumbria in the vicinity of neighbouring Askham Hall, his father's house. While the inscription to the underside may be a reference to the cabinetmaker, Johnstone and Jeanes of New Bond Street, London, who are the sole London-based cabinetmakers that include the name 'Johnstone' recorded in the Post Office directories between 1840 and 1851.
A pair of side cabinets, similar to this pair though with the addition of plinth bases - a feature which the present pair also originally had - was formerly in the collection of the late Mrs. Basil Feilding, Beckley Park, Oxfordshire, sold Christie's London, 14 November 1991, lot 205, for £15,000. A further pair of side cabinets sold Sotheby's London, 3 July 2003, lot 132 for £72,000.