THE IONIC ORDER
This elegant Ionic-columned and triumphal-arched 'buffet' cabinet is designed in the George II 'Roman' manner promoted by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. Designs by Lord Burlington and his protégé William Kent (d. 1748) featured in Some Designs of Inigo Jones and others, 1737 that was issued by Isaac Ware (d. 1766), Secretary of the King's Board of Works. Ware, also the author of a translation of Andrea Palladio's, Four Books of Architecture, 1738, included this pattern of Ionic temple column, with modillioned cornice, in his Complete Body of Architecture, 1754. A pattern for a related 'Ionick Buffet' also appeared in B. Langley's Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Designs: or the Art of Drawing and Working the Ornamental Parts of Architecture, London, 1745. The latter, which was prefixed with 'The Five Orders of Columns, according to Andrea Palladio', also illustrated the method of forming 'the Heads of Circular Buffets' (pls. LVI and LVIII). The Architectural Orders were also illustrated by the St. Martin's Lane cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale in the Preface to his Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754, and included the Ionic Order, with similarly flowered capital (Pl.III).
This handsome compass-fronted cabinet is likely to have stood in the corner of a dining room adorned with a similarly Ionic columned chimneypiece. The canted angles of its cornice are fitted with vase plinths; while a classical bust or vase would have been displayed on its key-stone bracket, whose serpentined and reeded truss is wrapped by Roman acanthus. The buffet cabinet, serving for the display of plate and china, is probably contemporary with the celebrated Corinthian-columned bookcases, which also appear to have been inspired by Ware's 1739 translation of Palladio, and were supplied in 1740 for Powderham Castle, Devon by the St. Martin's Lane cabinet-maker John Channon (d. 1779) (C. Gilbert and T. Murdoch, John Channon and brass-inlaid Furniture, London, 1993, fig. 4). The popularity of such buffets is discussed by Ian Gow, 'The Buffet-niche in eighteenth-century Scotland, Furniture History, 1994.