The marble-topped, plinth-supported and ormolu-enriched bookcases are designed in the French/Grecian fashion promoted around 1800 by George, Prince of Wales, later George IV, and by the connoisseur Thomas Hope (d. 1831). Their golden satinwood is enriched with symbolic ornament that evokes the triumph of the sun deity Apollo as god of poetry and artistic inspiration; and their laurel-wreathed friezes above paired and palm-flowered pillars recall the Grecian Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus (illustrated in J. Stuart and N. Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, 1762). The same ormolu-framed pillars feature on the Prince of Wales's satinwood desk that was supplied in 1811 for Carlton House, London by the Mount Street cabinet-makers Messrs William Marsh and Thomas Tatham ( W.H. Pyne, Carlton House, 1817, and J. O'Brien and D. Guinness, Great Irish Houses and Castles, London, 1992, p. 161). The design of the desk may have been indebted to Thomas's brother the court architect Charles Heathcote Tatham (d. 1842), whose pattern-book publications included Etchings representing Fragments of Grecian and Roman Architectural Ornaments, 1806.
The bronze work may well have been executed by Alexis Decaix (d. 1811), the French bronze-founder of Old Bond Street, who worked for the Prince and received praise in Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807. The bronze bas reliefs of palm-flowered medallions also appear on a desk, that was supplied to the 9th Earl of Thanet for Hothfield Place, Kent (sold by The News of the World Ltd., in these Rooms, 27 November l969, lot 142). The palm and acanthus foliage had been included in 1806 amongst the rich ormolu ornaments found on the Prince's yew-wood bookcases that were also supplied by Marsh and Tatham. The latters' Grecian ornament included elements derived from furniture in Thomas Hope's Duchess Street mansion (one of the bookcases was offered anonymously, in these Rooms, 3 July 1997, lot 70).
This present pair of marble-topped bookcases is likely to have been commissioned from Marsh & Tatham by Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (d. 1863), following his vast inheritance in 1809 of various properties including Lansdowne House, London and Bowood, Wiltshire.