The inlaid decoration on the present desk has strong correlations with a group of seaweed marquetry furniture associated with the Royal cabinet-maker Gerrit Jensen. In particular its kneehole configuration and inverted breakfront superstructure are paralleled on an example with very similar marquetry in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, illustrated in Adam Bowett, English Furniture 1660-1714, From Charles II to Queen Anne, 2002, p. 189, pls. 6:23-6:24. This desk also shares a rising panel with hinges positioned at approximately halfway across the depth of the top. However the superstructure is removable and is raised slightly above the level of the top by small turned feet. It is therefore interesting to speculate whether the raised section on the top of the offered lot once took this form. Features such as these, together with the positioning of the locks, are more commonly associated with French craftsmanship. This is consistent with certain documented pieces of cabinet-work attributed to the workshop of Jensen who is known to have had connections with the Parisian furniture maker Pierre Gole (See Adam Bowett, op.cit., p. 190). A further cabinet attributed to Jensen which is veneered with seaweed marquetry of a comparable quality and design is in the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire illustrated ibid., p.200, pls. 7:9 and 7:10. The scheme of the marquetry on the Chatsworth cabinet is similarly arranged in dense rectangular panels comprising foliate scrolls, strapwork and roundels. In contrast to the present desk it is decorated with premier partie marquetry with dark inlay on a light ground of holly or sycamore.
It is nevertheless not possible to make a firm attribution to the workshop of Jensen for the offered lot due to obscure provenance and the very limited availability of firmly documented pieces by this maker.
Gerrit Jensen was one of the foremost cabinet-makers of his day who had served the English crown since the reign of Charles II and retained his royal appointment throughout the reign of Queen Anne, supplying furniture not only for St. James's Palace but also Hampton Court and Kensington Palace. In addition to the Royal family, Jensen also attracted commissions from senior members of the nobility, including the Dukes of Richmond, Devonshire, Hamilton, Montagu and Somerset, collaborating with other leading artists and craftsmen on the decoration of some of the greatest town and country houses in England. Possibly of Flemish or Dutch extraction, Jensen was one of several artist-craftsmen of foreign background employed at the English court, and his work shows a strong Continental influence, particularly that of France, earning him the sobriquet `the English Boulle'.
A seaweed marquetry kneehole desk of very similar form, recorded in the collection of Sir George Donaldson is illustrated in Percy Macquoid, A History of English Furniture, The Age of Walnut, 1938, p. 136, fig. 126.
The lot catalogue entry which is glued to the inside face of one of the superstructure drawers appears to be taken from a Sotheby's catalogue although it has not yet been possible to establish the sale date.
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