PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
second quarter 18th century, Vizagapatam
second quarter 18th century, Vizagapatam
inlaid throughout with panels and borders of engraved ivory flowers fruit and foliage on ebony reserves, the rectangular moulded top with a central shaped lozenge medallion on a cruciform reserve within conformingly profiled borders, the front with an arrangement of nine drawers surrounding a central sliding bank of four drawers all with similarly inlaid borders, the keyholes with shield-shaped ivory escutcheons within ebony and engraved ivory medallions, on engraved ivory veneered shaped bracket feet, the sides similarly decorated as the top
possibly Christie's in the 1970's
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND REFERENCES
Lanto Synge, Mallett’s Great English Furniture, 1991, p. 184, fig. 210 Francis Lenygon, Decoration in England from 1640-1560. 1927, p. 17, fig. 13, the State Drawing Room, Wentworth Castle, YorkshireSotheby's Parke-Bernet, Art at Auction 1975-1976, 1976, a similar desk, sold London, November 14, 1975, lot 68, from The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Henry CottonMildred Archer et. al., Treasures from India – The Clive Collection at Powys Castle, 1987, pl. 101, pp. 81-82
Lucy Wood, The Lady Lever Art Gallery – Catalogue of Commodes, 1994, pp. 273-275, no. 35, figs. i-ix
Amin Jaffer (Furniture from British India and Ceylon, 2001, fig. 85
This rare writing or dressing table appears to be almost identical to another example (fig. 4), now at Englefield House, Berkshire, which was acquired in India by Richard Benyon, Governor of Fort St. George from 1734 to 1744 (Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, fig. 85, p. 187). This piece appears to have an integral toilet mirror on an easel support, the drawers within the kneehole being in their original fixed position, the base of the inner plinth having bracket feet at the sides, the drawers now fitted with European style handles. The inlaid ivory and ebony decoration of the present lot and that of the Englefield House table also appear to be separately designed and engraved, the outline of the borders and cartouches on the top and sides being identical. This contrasts with the decoration on the previous lot which is inlaid as an overal scheme. As Jaffer remarks when discussing a related small box in the Victoria and Albert Museum (op. cit. p. 186) ‘The design and execution of the flowers suggest a close relationship with north Coromandel Coast textiles manufactured in the first quarter of the 18th century, on which flowers of similar character are commonly found’. As with the bureau cabinet, the overall design of the table clearly shows its English origin, its form being found both in veneered and solid walnut and mahogany from the 1720s through the 1770s.
Another table (fig. 2), formerly in the collection of Lily and Edmond (sold, Sotheby’s, New York, November 3 2006, lot 144), is similarly conceived, although in this example the drawers within the knee-hole, together with an arrangement of pigeon holes, are designed as a unit which can be pulled forward to fill the opening. As with the present lot and the desk from Englefield House, it is ornamented with engraved ivory, although this is freely inlaid into the padouk surface and not contained within shaped cartouches and borders veneered with ebony. The design of this inlay is also closely related to the aforementioned textiles produced in the Coromandel region and is also found on another small group of dressing or writing tables an example of which is in the collection of the National Trust at Powys Castle (fig.1).
This table was almost certainly acquired in India by ‘Clive of India’, Robert Clive, Lord Clive of Plessey (1725-1774) being described in an inventory dated 1774 as ‘A Curious commode Chest Composed of Rosewood inlaid with Ivory and Silver mounted mark’d A6’. It differs from the present lot in that the kneehole is fitted with concave drawers beneath a further drawer in the form of semi-domed arch (M. Archer, Treasures from India – The Clive Collection at Powys Castle, 1987, l. 101, pp. 81-82). Other items of this form were formerly in the State Drawing Room, Wentworth Castle, Yorkshire and recorded in the collection of Mr and Mrs Henry Cotton (fig. 3), sold Sotheby's London, 14 November 1975
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