A particular hallmark of the present commode that supports a Langlois attribution is the distinctive asymmetrical foliate mount to the apron which features on a number of commodes ascribed to Langlois' workshop, including the exceptional Castle Howard commode sold Sotheby’s London, Important English Furniture, 29 November 2002, lot 53 (£150,000). It is conceivable that the mounts were supplied by his son-in-law, the bronzier Dominique Jean, with whom he shared premises at 39 Tottenham Court Road (G. Beard and C. Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986, p. 526). Jean is known to have supplied mounts to other leading cabinet-makers including Christopher Fuhrlohg (active 1762–1787). For a related pair of commodes by Langlois, with similar gilt-brass border mounts to the cupboard doors, see the Dundas commodes sold Christie’s London, Important English Furniture, 3 July 1997, lot 102.
This commode was formerly at Bickling Hall, a grand Jacobean house built by Sir Henry Hobart in 1616 on the sight of an earlier house that had been in the Boleyn family. The commode was most likely commissioned by John, 2nd Earl Of Buckinghamshire who succeeded his father to the Earldom in 1756. He was Comptroller to the Household and Lord of the Bedchamber to George II, and George III's Ambassador to Russia and later Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He died without male heir and so the house passed to his eldest daughter Harriet who married the 6th Marquess of Lothian in whose family it remained until the given to the national Trust on the death of 11th Marquess in 1940. There is a 1930 Country Life article on Bickling in which the photographs show a number of similar, French style gilt-mounted commodes though the current lot cannot be identified.
The commode was supplied to the family of the current owners by the renowned furniture historian R.W. Symonds. Trained as an architect, Symonds worked in his early career as partner to Robert Lutyens, son of Sir Edwin. He advised many of the great collectors of English furniture in the early 20th century such as Percival Griffiths and wrote extensively on English furniture from the late seventeenth century through the 'golden years' of English cabinet-making to the later decades of the eighteenth century. His archive was acquired by the Winterthur Library upon his death in 1959.
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