This ormolu-enriched pier dressing-table commode is designed in an elegant George III 'picturesque' fashion, and evolved from 'French Commode Table' patterns such as appeared in Thomas Chippendale's, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754 (pls. XLIII and XLV).
The round scalloped corners of its bowed and serpentined top are echoed in the fretted aprons scalloped and serpentined lambrequin. Arcadian reeds wrap its top, drawers, and dressing-table slide, while those of its sarcophagus-scrolled angle pilasters are flower-entwined. Its Corinthian pilasters have capitals and feet embellished with Roman acanthus in ribbon-scrolled cartouches and they harmonise with the handle-plates, which are recorded in an l8th Century Birmingham metal-worker's pattern-book (T.R. Crom, An Eighteenth Century English Brass Hardware Catalogue, Florida, 1994, p. 46). This popular pattern was adopted in 1754 for William Linnell's japanned cabinet supplied to Mrs. Elisabeth Montague, and in 1760 for his clothes-press/bookcase supplied for Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire (H. Hayward and P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980, vol. II, figs. 100 and 12). It was introduced in 1761 on Queen Charlotte's bureau supplied by William Vile (A.Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, fig. 13) and was favoured on a number of occasions by Thomas Chippendale (d. 1779) such as the related scallop-fretted commodes supplied for Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, figs. 226 and 270). Around 1770 he also supplied a related commode, with the same patterned top and flower-reeded pilasters, for Nostell Priory, Yorkshire (ibid., fig. 227).
THE ATTRIBUTION TO HILL OF MARLBOROUGH
This commode is one of a group of commodes attributed to the Henry Hill of Marlborough, active from circa 1740 until his death in 1778. Its construction and form is almost identical to that of a marquetry commode attributed to Hill in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, while the same handle-plates and pilasters feature on a similar patterned commode attributed to Hill and associated with payments (amounting to £227.10.3d) made to him in 1770-1771 by the 9th Duke of Somerset of Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire. Like most of Hill's clients, Somerset was a Wiltshire landowner. The present commode is very similar to another sold from the collection of Prince Littler, Chestham Park, Sussex, Christie's house sale, 18/19 April 1977, lot 80. These and other related commodes are discussed by L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, no. 4, pp. 64-73.