Conceived in the Louis XV 'antique' style, the tablet inlaid on this dressing-table top displays a trompe l'oeil flower-basket within an 'Etruscan' black border, while the ormolu-enriched frieze of its serpentined and Cupid-bowed frame displays triumphal crossed-palm and a sacred urn entwined with laurel-wreathed garlands. While typifying the 'French' manner traditionally associated with John Cobb, the flower-basket tablet features on a set of four brass-inlaid commodes supplied by Pierre Langlois (d. 1767) of Tottenham Court Road to King George III and Queen Charlotte for the Queen's House, now Buckingham Palace (see: P. Thornton and W. Rieder, 'Pierre Langlois, Ebeniste', part 3, The Connoisseur, December 1971 - May 1972). The flower- basket is probably inspired by engravings of the celebrated mosaic table in the Vatican collection. It relates in particular to the tablet-supported baskets in pietra dura, such as that which appears on a table sold anonymously, Christie's Melbourne, 14 September 1992, lot 264.
However, this particular use of foliate angle clasps, the heavy dependence upon subtle engraving to enliven the marquetry and the moulded ebonised border are characteristic of the group of yew-wood and marquetry commodes dating from the 1760s attributed to John Mayhew and William Ince. The group is fully detailed in a catalogue footnote to one latterly at Linton Park, Kent, sold anonymously in these Rooms, 5 July 1990, lot 141. Moreover, the crossed-palm fronds and illusionistic Grecian laurel swags overhanging the crossbanded border relate to the pair of commodes 'inlaid with festoons to the front' and supplied by Mayhew & Ince to the 9th Earl of Exeter in October 1767 (see: H. Hayward and E. Till, 'A Furniture Discovery at Burghley', Country Life, 7 June 1973, iv p. 1605-8, fig. 8). A very cautious attribution to Mayhew and Ince is possible on these grounds, but it is significant that these ideas were probably introduced into England by Parisian trained Swedes, particularly Georg Haupt. A commode by Haupt that combines husk swags with inverted crossed palms of a similar type to the present lot was sold by Bukowski in 1932 and is illustrated in M.Lagerquist, Georg Haupt, Stockholm, 1979, p.165, no.43