ALBANY: An Important Private Collection

ALBANY: An Important Private Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 73. A George III gilt-lacquered brass mounted mahogany, stained sycamore, tulipwood-banded and inlaid commode, circa 1765-70, attributed to John Cobb.

A George III gilt-lacquered brass mounted mahogany, stained sycamore, tulipwood-banded and inlaid commode, circa 1765-70, attributed to John Cobb

Auction Closed

December 6, 03:29 PM GMT


150,000 - 250,000 GBP

Lot Details


A George III gilt-lacquered brass mounted mahogany, stained sycamore, tulipwood-banded and inlaid commode, circa 1765-70, attributed to John Cobb

the serpentine-shaped top inlaid with a central quatrefoil and finely-figured timbers within a Greek key and cross-banded border, with a paterae and fluted brass edge, the oval-inlaid doors enclosing two adjustable shelves and four short mahogany-lined drawers, between gilt-lacquered brass mounted angles leading to rocaille sabots, on splayed feet, the sides with carrying handles, the back variously inscribed with inventory numbers 3526 and 19929 

90.75cm. high, 124cm. wide, 62cm. deep; 2ft. 11 3/4in., 4ft. 13/16in., 2ft. 3/8in.

Please note that the provenance of this lot has been updated to reflect new research, which verifies that the commode was at Gopsall Hall before passing to the Howe family. This lot contains endangered species. Sotheby’s recommends that buyers check with their own government regarding any importation requirements prior to placing a bid. For example, US regulations restrict or prohibit the import of certain items to protect wildlife conservation. Please note that Sotheby’s will not assist buyers with the shipment of this lot to the US. A buyer’s inability to export or import these lots cannot justify a delay in payment or sale cancellation.

Probably supplied to Penn Assheton Curzon (1757-1797) for Gopsall Hall, Leicestershire;

thence by descent to Richard Curzon-Howe, 1st Earl Howe (1796-1870), son of Penn Assheton Curzon and Baroness Sophia Howe;

thence by descent to his granddaughter Mary, Countess Howe (1887-1962), 35 Curzon Street, London;

with Moss Harris, London;

the Collection of H.H. Mulliner Esq., The Important Collection of English and French Furniture, Decorative Objects, Needlework and Porcelain in the Property of the late Mrs Henry Oppenheim of 22 Upper Grosvenor Street, sold Christie's London, 24-29 May 1933, lot 95;

with Frank Partridge and Sons, 1946;

with Hotspur Ltd., London.

L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, no. 7, pp. 88-97, fig. 93.

N. Goodison and R. Kern, Hotspur, Eightly Years of Antique Dealing, London, 2004, Catalogue 19, pp. 226-227.

The present commode has stylistic affinities with a group of commodes, illustrated in Lucy Wood, The Lady Lever Art Gallery, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, pp.88-97, attributed to John Cobb. The front profile and doors inlaid with oval medallions and serpentine form can be seen on many of these examples whilst the gilt-lacquered brass mounts, particularly those to the edge of the top relate closely to the commode formerly in the collection of the Lords Tweedmouth and subsequently in the collection of Col. H.H. Mulliner (ibid. figs. 81-82). The oval panels to the front and sides of the current commode can further be related to the Tweedmouth commode which displays plain oval reserves to the sides centred by elaborate handles and also to one of Cobb's most celebrated documented commissions, that for Paul Methuen of Corsham Court, Wiltshire where he supplied an elaborately inlaid marquetry commode of similar form in 1770, together with a pair of pedestals again references by Lucy Wood alongside the current commode.

Very little is known of the early life of the Royal cabinet-maker John Cobb, (circa 1715-1778) until he entered into partnership with the elder William Vile in 1751. Shortly after this, on 31st May 1755, he married Sukey Grendey and became the son-in-law of the celebrated cabinet-maker, Giles Grendey. On the accession of George III in 1760, Vile and Cobb were granted a Royal Warrant in 1761 to supply furniture to the Crown under the direction of the Master of the Great Wardrobe. Some of their most celebrated Royal commissions are discussed in Geoffrey Beard, `Vile and Cobb, Eighteenth Century London Furniture Makers', Antiques, June 1990, pp.1394-1405. Cobb continued in business for thirteen years after Vile`s retirement in 1764, during which time he produced the documented inlaid commode and two pedestals for Paul Methuen ( 1772) , illus. Lucy Wood, op.cit. p.91. to which the present lot relates, and which have become seminal to the construction of his identity as a producer of high quality furniture often incorporating a variety of exotic timbers ( cf. Anon., Corsham Court, 1993, p.11, fig. 111).

The documented work of Cobb shows a close understanding of French prototypes, not only in marquetry decoration, but also in construction techniques. It is perhaps notable that in 1772, he was implicated in smuggling French furniture into England through the use of Italian diplomatic bags in an attempt to avoid import duty (cf. Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840, 1986, p.182).