A GEORGE III RED JAPANNED BUREAU CABINET, SECOND QUARTER 18TH CENTURY
upper section possibly associated, redecorated
height 88 ½ in.; width 41 ¾ in.; depth 21 ¾ in.
224.8 cm; 106 cm; 55.3 cm
Lower desk: Lacquer in overall good condition throughout with minor surface loses, one quarter-size loss to lower drawer true right corner, losses to upper rail of desk where drop-front hits body, 1 inch sliver-size loss of Lacquer to true left upper molding. Small lacquer losses to main scene of fall front. Concerning the interior of the desk, lacquer in good condition throughout with two dime-size losses to interior of fall front landscape scene. black ink has been spilled at some point and mopped up--slight black staining to interior of fall front on account of this
concerning the structure: 12 inch split in wood on true right side with a 6 inch split to lower true left side. Fall front desk has a slight bow and thus does not fully close in middle; closes at corners. Lowest main drawer does not close fully, other drawers in good shape commiserate with age. For the interior of the desk, in general good condition commiserate with age. All drawers accounted for. Sticking on the top true left drawer along with the central door. Missing pieces include the two central column bases and one of the column's Corinthian capitals.
Upper Desk: Lacquer in overall good condition throughout exterior of top. Interior: lacquer in overall good condition
Concerning the structure: Case of upper in overall good condition with only one visible split in wood on true lower left side, about 4 inches. True right arched crown molding re-attached/repaired. Candle stands in good, working condition. For the interior, structure in good condition with no visible splits in wood. There is a corner missing to one of the interior compartment crowns with all others in good condition. All drawers accounted for and operable
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.
Mario Buatta acquired this bureau cabinet in England in the 1970s, and it remained with him in all his apartments as a focal point in the living room. The classic English japanned bureau cabinet fulfils the dual purpose of both providing both a strong vertical anchor point of rich colour and exuberant surface decoration in a room as well as serving as a functional storage piece and display vehicle for multifarious objects including antique porcelain and small boxes - things all beloved to the designer and integral elements of his decorating philosophy. Virtually every one of Buatta's major projects has included a lacquer bureau cabinet in the main drawing room.
It is likely that the designer was inspired in his love of bureau cabinets by his early mentor, Rose Cumming. The larger-than-life decorator Cumming (1887-1968) was born on a sheep farm in Australia and immigrated to New York in 1917 with her sister, the silent film star Dorothy Cumming. Her decorating office in a converted automobile showroom on Park Avenue doubled as a fabric and antique shop and specialized in flamboyant chintz patterns, chinoiserie, and Venetian, Austrian and South German baroque and rococo furniture, at a time when most New Yorkers favoured conservative English Georgian taste or at most the more conventional French Louis XV and XVI. When he was a student, Buatta worked for Rose Cumming on Saturdays, along with Tom Britt and John Robert Moore II, and at the end of the day she would always prepare them dinner. Her own townhouse was decorated with Chinese wallpaper on a silver ground, something Buatta would recreate in the painted walls of his entrance hall. Her taste had more than a whiff of Hollywood glamour and appealed to film stars - her clients included Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer and Marlene Dietrich