This commode, veneered with richly rayed tablets and borders, is elegantly inlaid with poetic trophies of flowers and foliage. Apollo's ribbon-tied laurels embellish its top, accompanied on the facades by palm-flowered medallions enriched with Roman foliage. That on the front is enclosed by a ribbon-twist frame and entwined by laurels; while laurel-enriched foliage entwines the escutcheon and handles of the frieze and base drawers.
This commode is almost certainly the pair to a commode sold anonymously in these Rooms, 14 December 1995, lot 270. The only very minor difference is that the drawers of that commode were inscribed to the underside '774', '775' and '776' while this commode only has the inscription 'AB' to the underside of the top drawer and the handles are not identical. The existence of two basically identical commodes in England must, however, indicate that they were almost certainly conceived as a pair.
The general construction of the commodes, including the distinctively fluted feet, directly relate to commodes made in Maggiolini's workshop in the 1790s. The decoration can also be related to surviving designs. The central rosette, for instance, compares to drawings now in the Civica Raccolta delle Stampe, A. Bertarelli, Milan, which are illustrated in G. Morazzoni, Il Mobile Intarsiato di Giuseppe Maggiolini, Milan, 1957, plate CXXI, while the scrolling foliage of the frieze and bottom drawer more directly derives from a design in the same collection, illustrated in Morazzoni, op. cit., plate CIV. This design is repeated on a signed and dated commode of 1790 with identical channelled toupie feet, in the collection of the Civiche Raccolte d'Arte Applicata, Milan (G. Beretti, Giuseppe e Carlo Francesco Maggiolini, Milan, 1994, pp. 142-145, plate XXII, and in G. Rosa, I Mobili nelle Civiche Raccolte Artistiche di Milano, Milan, 1963, p. 141, cat. 393).
Giuseppe Maggiolini (1738-1814) was first noticed for his advanced and highly skilled marquetry work in 1768, when he was visited by the designer Giuseppe Levati and Marchese Litta, which led to several commissions at the villa of the Marchese. He was soon recognised in wider circles and held the title Intarsiatore delle Loro Altezze Reali. In 1771 he received his first important commission to supply furniture to the Milanese court, on the marriage of the Arciduca Ferdinando di Lorena and Duchessa Maria Beatrice d'Este. His workshop grew to thirty employees, and subsequently, among others, supervised the construction and furnishing projects of the Palazzo Ducale in Milan, the Villa Reale in Monza and the Palazzo Ducale in Mantova. He enjoyed great success and numerous commissions from the aristocracy in Northern Italy. It was only with the politcal changes of 1796, which overthrew the old regime, that his success diminished, before receiving important commissions anew towards the end of the century. He died impoverished in 1814.