The Grecian-black commode has its top wreathed by a poetic laurelled border, and displays the 'Herculaneum dancers' or 'Bacchantes' which featured in T. Martyn and J. Lettice's Antiquities of Herculaneum, London, 1773, pls. XV111-XX, and in the 1757 volume of Le Antichita di Ercolano Esposte, Naples, 1755-92. Interest in the ancient Herculaneum wall-paintings was revived when they were restored by the French following their acquisition of the Kingdom of Naples. Full-sized illustrations of the dancing Bacchantes were introduced in 1800 at Napoleon's residence at Malmaison. At these same time they featured on French silks woven for hangings and upholstery (S. Jervis, Art and Designs, London, 1987, pp. 24 and 25).
The vine-entwined commode and its top are decorated in penwork. Designs for such work were issued in London from the print shop opened in 1795 by Rudolph Ackermann, and related figures featured in his 'Ornaments for Painting on Wood and Fancy Work', issued in his Repository of Arts, vol. 3. February 1817, pl. 12.