17 October 2003
AN ENGLISH ORMOLU-MOUNTED WALNUT SECRETAIRE-CABINET
Early 18th Century and later
The broken pediment centred by a cartouche with a coat-of-arms, above a pair of doors with pierced lockplate enclosing a fitted interior with fifteen variously-sized small drawers around a central cupboard with a pair of rectangular glazed panelled doors, each with a central oval mezzotint of George I and his father, Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, in a flower-painted slip, the reverse of the doors with mirror panels and enclosing a further pair of conforming doors with mezzotints of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later Queen Caroline and George II), enclosing a floral-painted interior with a mezzotint of Frederick, Anne, Amelia and Caroline, children of the Prince of Wales flanked on each side by a mirror, the ceiling painted with clouds, the base with birds and trees, the reverse of the doors each with a tree, the sides of the cabinet with carrying-handles, the lower section with a fitted secretaire-drawer with six variously-sized small drawers, four pigeon-holes and a central cupboard, above three long drawers, on shaped bracket feet, with paper label inscribed in ink 'W.E.PALMER. CATALOGUE NO. 92. Q. A. W. walnut Cabinet, with engravings'
89in. (226cm.) high, 42in. (108cm.) wide, 21in. (53.5cm.) deep
This cabinet was purchased at the Antique Exhibition, held at Olympia in 1928. It had reputedly been bought from Monsieur Woltner, Chateau Haut Brion, Bordeaux, France, by Edwards & Sons, 157 Regent Street, London. It was traditionally believed to have been bequeathed to M. Woltner by his aunt who had lived in Russia for many years. The legend continued that the cabinet had been made for George I and reputedly given by the King as a gift to the British Ambassador of that period at St Petersburg.
Bought by William Berry, 1st Viscount Camrose (d. 1954) and by descent. The Property of a Nobleman, sold Christie's London, 8 July 1999, lot 71.
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P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, rev. ed., 1954, vol. I, p. 141, fig. 41.
R. Edwards, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1964, p. 79, fig. 25.
The form of the cabinet with pierced lock plate, engraved hinges, and a pair of doors enclosing an arrangement of drawers, is based on Chinese and Japanese Export lacquer cabinets that were imported to the West during the late 17th and 18th Centuries.
The central pair of oval mezzotints are of George II (1683-1760) and Queen Caroline (1666-1726), of Ansbach, both after portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller in the Royal Collection (illustrated in O. Millar, The Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 1963, figs. 147 and 148).
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