A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet circa 1760

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Lot 35TP
A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet
circa 1760

Sold for £ 27,500 (US$ 34,739) inc. premium
A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet
circa 1760
The broken triangular pediment flanked below by scroll carved brackets and pierced fretwork galleries surmounted by two urn finials, the dentil moulded cornice above three geometric astragal glazed doors enclosing six adjustable shelves, the serpentine base comprising one long and two short frieze drawers, over one long drawer with a gilt-tooled leather inset sliding top, with foliate carved C-scroll spandrels and a recessed door below, flanked by eight short graduated drawers, with acanthus and husk pendant carved tapering scrolled corbel angles, on a plinth base, indistinctly inscribed in chalk: 'LORD DUNALLY' (sic.) and 'PRINS'. 152cm wide x 56cm deep x 220cm high, (59 1/2in wide x 22in deep x 86 1/2in high)


  • Provenance
    Probably Henry Prittie, 4th Baron Dunalley (d. 1927), or Henry Prittie, 5th Baron Dunalley (d. 1948).
    Acquired circa 1952-53 by Mr. and Mrs. Lionel Moore, Matfield House, Brenchley, Kent, and almost certainly purchased from Ronald Lee.

    The offered lot was formerly in the collection of Mr and Mrs Lionel Moore at Matfield House, Kent, and the house and its contents the subject of an article in The Antique Collector, December 1953. Much of the collection was acquired under the guidance of Ronald Lee, and included another distinguished mahogany china display cabinet associated with the royal cabinet makers, Vile and Cobb, which was exhibited by Lee at the Antique Dealers' Fair, Grosvenor House, in 1950, later sold to Sir William Garthwaite, and subsequently sold anonymously at Christie's, London, 12 November 1998 (£298,500 including premium).

    The present cabinet derives from designs published in 1762 by Thomas Chippendale (d. 1779) in the third edition of his Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, pl. CXIV for a 'Dressing Chest and Bookcase' and pl. LXII for 'Buroe Dressing Tables'. While the glazing pattern conforms to designs in pl. CI. The form was also popularised in Messrs. Mayhew and Ince's Universal System of Household Furniture, 1762, pl. XXI, a Gentleman's Repository.

    The serpentine base corresponds to a pair of kneehole desks attributed to the Wakefield, Yorkshire cabinet makers, Wright and Elwick, one of which was sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 7 April 2006, lot 351. This latter example combined the arched kneehole, canted angles with elaborate carving and deep plinth, as evident on the offered lot. The adaptation of Chippendale patterns is characteristic of the work of Wright and Elwick, whose partnership existed from 1747 until 1771.

    Wright and Elwick were known to have subscribed separately to the 1754 first edition of Chippendale's Director and they were almost certainly employed by Sir Rowland Winn at Nostell Priory, in Leeds, immediately prior to Chippendale who began working there in 1766. Wright and Elwick were also employed at Wentworth Woodhouse. Furthermore, they appear to have been employed by John Spencer at Cannon Hall in 1768 on the advice of his architect John Carr in preference to the likes of Chippendale or John Cobb, indicating their work to be of the highest quality and on a par with London's foremost cabinet makers.

    Among the more notable comparable examples are a walnut and parcel gilt secretaire bookcase, probably supplied to James Brydges, Marquess of Carnarvon and 3rd Duke of Chandos, sold anonymously Christie's, New York, 19 April 1991, lot 295, and a mahogany breakfront bookcase almost certainly supplied to Charles, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (d. 1782) for Wentworth Woodhouse, sold at Christie's, London, 9 July 1998, lot 76. There are also parallels with a commode and a 'winged cabinet' from Wentworth Woodhouse sold Christie's, London, 15 July 1948, lot 111 and 133 respectively, which further point to Wright and Elwick as the likely creator. Finally, another smaller model with a serpentine commode base is at Fairfax House, the York townhouse whose interiors were designed by John Carr in circa 1762, Christie's and P. Brown, The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture and Clocks, 1987, York, p. 43.

    'Matfield House', The Antique Collector, December 1953, pp.'s 223-230.
A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet circa 1760
A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet circa 1760
A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet circa 1760
A George III mahogany serpentine display cabinet circa 1760
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Lot will be moved to an offsite storage location (Cadogan Tate, Auction House Services, 241 Acton Lane, London NW10 7NP, UK) and will only be available for collection from this location at the date stated in the catalogue. Please note transfer and storage charges will apply to any lots not collected after 14 calendar days from the auction date.