An important and rare pair of George III satinwood, harewood and mahogany marquetry commodes attributed to Mayhew and Ince circa 1775
- satinwood, mahogany, harewood, brass
- height 33 3/4 in.; width 4 ft. 3 in.; depth 21 1/2 in.
- 85.7 cm; 129.5 cm; 54.6 cm
Sold, Anderson Galleries, New York, February 9, 1926, lots 99 and 99A
Lot 99 purchased by Frank Partridge Antiques, London and sold to Eleanor Schlesinger
Lot 99A purchased by Henry Symonds
The pair sold, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, September 29, 1973 lot 148
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Mayhew was originally apprenticed to William Bradshaw, the upholsterer, of Soho Square, and Ince apprenticed to John West of Covent Garden from 1752 until West's death in 1758. In November of that year West's premises were taken over by Samuel Norman, James Whittle and John Mayhew. However, in December of 1758 a partnership solely between Mayhew and Ince was formed, the two purchasing the business and stock of Charles Smith of Carnaby Street. Initially describing themselves as 'cabinet makers, carvers and upholders', this was variously amended over the term of the partnership to include such terms as 'dealers in plate glass', the categories of 'cabinet maker' and 'upholsterer', however, remaining constant. As Beard and Gilbert remark in The Dictionary of Furniture Makers 1660-1840, 'These revisions no doubt reflect the change in taste from carved to veneered and inlaid furniture characteristic of the period 1760-1780', as seen in the present commodes; this change is also indicated by the relative failure of their Universal System of Household Furniture,which only appeared in one edition in 1762, its rococo designs becoming somewhat old-fashioned. Beard and Gilbert (op. cit)further note that the partnership was in particular 'highly proficient and adventurous'... in... 'the use of marquetry, distinguished by a variety of techniques and pointing to a significant number of specialist marqueteurs in the firm's employ'.
The firm is also noted for their use of ormolu mounts on their more important cabinet-work, many of which were presumably obtained from brass-founders in Soho, their relationship with Boulton and Fothergill being documented, such as their joint involvement over the commission of the Duchess of Manchester's cabinet. The size of their extensive business by 1768 is indicated by an advertisement in the Public Advertiser, the partnership appealing for 'upwards of 100 Men, Cabinet-makers, Chair-makers, and some very good Joyners who will be immediately employed on the best Work' and for 'Some Men who can do Inlaid Work in Woods &c and engrave and work in brass'.
The firm is recorded as working with the architect Robert Adam on several notable commissions, including Coventry House, Piccadilly and, Croome Court for the 6th Earl of Coventry, Sherbourne Castle, Audley End and Derby House and Shelburne Castle. Adam's influence is seen in 'their ability to produce very early on furniture in the most startling advanced Neo-classical taste is beyond doubt...and certainly owed much to their early collaboration with the country's leading Neo-classical architects'. (Beard and Gilbert, op. cit.)
Elements of the marquetry of the present commodes are similar to the marquetry of a commode designed by Robert Adam dated October 21, 1774 for Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby for Derby House, and supplied by Mayhew and Ince November 3, 1775. For example, the composition of the central panel of the Derby Commode is a central painted roundel flanked by four circular roundels to the corners which is the same composition used in the present commode. The only difference between the two is that the roundels to the spandrels are handles rather than inlaid roundels. Adam was responsible for the entire design of Derby House at No 23, later 26, Grosvenor Square, rebuilt in the classical style from 1773-74. The commode was intended for the Countess’ Etruscan dressing room. When Adam published his work in 1779, he stated he had not previously thought to apply Etruscan taste to the decoration of an apartment indicating the original commode then was one of the earliest examples of the Etruscan style in 18th century Britain.
Another commode attributed to Mayhew and Ince on its similarity to the Derby Commode, now in the Ladly Lever Art Gallery, (op. cit. cat. No. 23) is very similar to the present commodes. The tops have a an almost identical fan to the back edge surrounded by husk swags held together with ribbons.
Another aspect of the marquetry which is similar is the crenelated banding which surrounds the fan and can be seen on a number of commodes including on a commode which Mayhew and Ince supplied to Viscount Palmerston at Broadlands in the 1780s (Wood, p. 214, fig. 202) and to another commode similar to the Broadlands pair which sold at Sotheby’s, London, December 4, 2013, lot 493.
Lucy Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, pp. 207-208, plates 196-200
Eileen Harris, The Furniture of Robert Adam, New York, 1973, plate 47