January 31, 05:43 PM GMT
30,000 - 50,000 USD
A George III Mahogany Secretaire Cabinet, in the Manner of Thomas Chippendale, Circa 1765
with inventory number in red ink to top right drawer 56-340, the reverse of the upper section witha chalk inscription Col. W / X LANGHORN (?), the interior of one rail to the plinth with penciled inscription Lerin.../ Clo... (?), the interior of one drawer with an old printed label NORWICH CASTLE / MUSEUM and numbered 44.490.
height 110 1/4 in.; width 59 in.; depth 21 3/4 in.
280 cm; 149.9 cm; 55.2 cm
Although it is not possible to firmly attribute this secretaire cabinet to Thomas Chippendale, several characteristics of its design and construction strongly suggest his manufacture. Designed in Chippendale's early neo-Classical style, the bookcase features several of his trademarks: the scroll-carved terminals to the swan's-neck pediment (cf. The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 3rd ed., 1762 pl. CVIII for a 'Desk & Bookcase'); identical glazing bars to those for a 'Library Bookcase', op. cit., XCV; the pattern of gilt-brass handles often used by the firm (cf. a commode at Goldsborough Hall, supplied by Chippendale, circa 1770); the astragal moldings to the cupboard doors below, with concave corners mounted with flowerhead roundels (cf. a drawing for a library table in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with an identical door and an engraved design for a desk and bookcase, op. cit. 1762, pl. CVII).
Solid mahogany timbers are found throughout; the pine shelves to the upper section are stained red and faced with mahogany; the doors below are veneered in beautiful matched flame veneers on mahogany panels and the use of the lustrous mahogany fronts to the secretaire drawer (with stamped brass axe-head handles, cf. a secretaire at Paxton, C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. II, p. 60), are all qualities associated with Chippendale. A secretaire with a similar configuration to the arrangement of the drawers and attributed to Chippendale was sold Christie's, London, 24 November 2005, lot 131. The left fretwork panel to the laminated pediment has been replaced; the right panel appears to be original and is cut out of the solid from a single piece of mahogany and is applied at the back of the pediment as the last laminate.
An interesting constructional feature possibly unique to Chippendale's furniture is the chamfered bottom side edge of each of the four sections; this is received into a conforming chamfered molding of each section, thereby fitting securely and avoiding sliding the two sections together from the back, thereby reducing the possibility of damaging the moldings. An unseen feature, it was more expensive to produce and a sign of fine quality. Cf. a related secretaire cabinet sold in these rooms in the manner of Thomas Chippendale, 16 October 2009, lot 111 ($34,375 including premium), with identical mahogany drawers with gilt-metal handles to the lower section.
The concave quarter-moldings to the drawers are found in case furniture made by Thomas Chippendale and John Cobb.
See also M. Harris, A Catalogue of Antique Furniture and Works of Art, n.d., for a very similar secretaire bookcase, with pierced fretwork panels to the pediment centered by a platform, dentil moldings and scroll-carved terminals, property of the late Dr. Sydney [sic] Martin (1860-1924), p. 66, no. F11098. Chippendale supplied a library table to the banker John Martin of Ham Court, Upton-upon-Severn, Gloucestershire, either on 5 September 1773 or 9 May 1775, that was sold in these rooms, HSBC's Corporate Art Collection, 21 October 2004, lot 34. It would be interesting to discover if these two Martins were members of the same family.