The 'vase' inlay of this French-fashioned and ormolu-enriched commode reflects the George III 'Etruscan' style introduced to bedroom apartments of the 1760s by the architect Robert Adam (d. 1792). Evoking the concept of sacrifices at Love's alter in antiquity, an enflamed 'cassolette' vase, wreathed by flowered 'arabesques' of Roman foliage, is inlaid in trompe l'oeil on the commode's serpentined top, and wrapped by a golden ribbon-band.
Adam, like other mid-18th Century 'Grand Tour' connoisseurs, was enthused for antique 'vases' by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (d.1778), whose Diverse Maniere d'Adornare I Cammini, 1769, helped increase the popularity of 'vase' decoration. The decorative use of Roman and Grecian vases was celebrated as the 'Etruscan' style by Robert and James Adam in their Works in Architecture, 1773.
This commode's 'cassolette' top as well as its ormolu cartouches of Roman acanthus also feature on a pair of related commodes sold by Rt. Hon. the Earl of Powis, C.B.E., Powis Castle, Wales Sotheby's London, 30 March 1962, lot 171, and again at Christie's New York, 19 April 1986, lot 413. Similar tablets of urns and baskets also feature on a 'commode' chest-of-drawers, that may have once been at Levens Hall, Westmorland and is now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery. The Powis and Levens commodes are discussed in L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, no. 17.