THE 1ST VISCOUNT LEVERHULME AND ADAM FURNITURE
Leverhulme spent much of his collecting life assembling a group of English furniture magnificent and worthy enough to compete with the far more popular French examples that were being so aggressively collected by the Rothschilds, 4th Marquess of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace throughout the last quarter of the 19th Century. Leverhulme's aim, aided by fellow collectors such as James Orrock and, before him, 1st Lord Tweedmouth, was to establish and popularise the style of English furniture of the last quarter of the 18th Century, in particular the Adam style of furniture. Through the study of Antique design, Adam created what was perceived by Leverhulme and his fellow collectors as a 'British' or 'English' style and in so doing, had superceded the earlier designs by Thomas Chippendale and Matthias Lock in their use, and in some cases reliance on French rococo designs. This process was mirrored by the popularity in the mid to late 19th century of firms such as Edwards and Roberts (see lots 1074-1081 in this sale) and Wright and Mansfield 'whose taste and knowledge of the Adams period of decoration was unrivalled' (L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, Leeds, 1994, p. 28). Furthermore, the decoration of Leverhulme's Cheshire house, Thornton Manor included several 'Adam' rooms, arranged under the direction of the furniture historian and interior designer Percy Macquoid. The attempt was made to re-create an authentic Adam interior, but which, in its self-conscious desire to conform to Leverhulme's ideas of Adam period decoration, became a microcosm of Edwardian interior design and an example of the perception of late 18th century English furniture around the turn of the century (for an extensive discussion see Wood, op. cit., Introduction, 'Lord Leverhulme and the taste for Adam period furniture', pps. 24-38).
A very similar demi-lune commode with painted roundel depicting the same seated composer, was sold anonymously, Christie's, South Kensington, 7 February 2001, lot 269.