This corner cupboard and its pair (sold at Henry Adams, Chichester, 23 April 2002) can be firmly attributed to Thomas Chippendale (d. 1779). It is a classic example of Thomas Chippendale's work, combining a superb choice of timber, draftsmanship and design, but it is particularly interesting as it shows the emerging influence of his son in the design of the marquetry. The distinctive serpentine-shaped apron design and acanthus leaf mounts on the feet appear on a commode at Nostell Priory, supplied to Sir Rowland Winn, for Lady Winn's bed chamber, invoiced by Chippendale on the 22nd December 1770 at £40 (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, pl. 10, and vol. II, figs. 221-2). The black rosewood interior of this corner cupboard was a feature repeatedly favoured by the elder Chippendale. Several marquetry commodes subsequently supplied by the firm of Chippendale Haig & Co. also relate to this lot. One example is the commode the firm supplied circa 1778-81 to Thomas de Grey, 2nd Lord Walsingham, sold as part of the Leverhulme Collection, Knight, Frank & Rutley, 10-11 June 1926, lot 126. The mounts on the angles of the latter commode are very similar to those on the current lot. Other examples by Chippendale, Haig & Co. include two commodes probably supplied to Sir Richard Hoare, Bt., of Barn Elms (1734-1787) and inherited by his son Charles Hoare of Luscombe Castle, sold Christie's, London, 26 June 1986, lots 112-3 (L. Wood 'Lord Walsingham and the Younger Chippendale, 'Antique Collecting, February 1987, figures 2 & 3, pp. 38-41). The darkened outlining of the cartouche on one of the Luscombe Castle commodes (ibid., figure 3, p. 39) is very similar to the defined cartouche of this corner cupboard.
The corner cupboard's ornament reflects in particular the Francophile taste introduced by George III's architect Sir William Chambers (d. 1796) and Queen Charlotte's Lord Chamberlain 1st Earl Harcourt (d. 1777) in the early 1760s furnishings of the Queen's House, now Buckingham Palace. These bronze-sculpted furnishings included a Parisian equation clock, whose lyre-scrolled and mosaic-parquetried case was bronze-mounted by Charles Cressent (d. 1768); and also an Alexander Cumming barograph, whose case was designed in 1763 with bronze-enrichments in the manner of Jean-Claude-Thomas Chambellan-Duplessis (d. 1773), Louis XV's goldsmith or 'orfevre du Roi' (H. Roberts, 'Collecting French furniture before George IV', Apollo, August 2000, pp.3 - 9 and fig.12; and J. Roberts, Royal Treasures, London, 2002, no. 83).
The 'corner-table' commode (encoignure), serving for vase and candelabrum display in a bedroom apartment decorated à la Français, is cupid-bowed and richly sculpted in the 'picturesque' manner to evoke the poets' Golden Age. The golden ripple veneer of the top and façade is inlaid with scrolled cartouches of Roman foliage and banded by 'rose' coloured reeds. The sarcophagus-scrolled pillars are also festooned in ormolu with golden laurels issuing from similar ribbon-scrolled cartouches, while the wave-scrolled trusses of their plinths are raised on bubbled water-scallops. Such scrolled 'rainceaux' of foliage pays homage to the water-born Nature Deity, and was lauded as the 'natural style' in William Hogarth's, Analysis of Beauty, 1753.