Provenance & Patina: Important English Furniture from a West Coast Collection

Provenance & Patina: Important English Furniture from a West Coast Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 1029. A George II Walnut and Burr Walnut Chest, Circa 1730.

A George II Walnut and Burr Walnut Chest, Circa 1730

Auction Closed

June 18, 08:33 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


the ovolo-moulded top with re-entrant corners, above a green baize-lined slide and two short drawers simulated as three drawers and three long graduated drawers, with carcase cockbeads; one side with a fitted pen drawer, the other with a simulated drawer, above brass carrying-handles; bracket feet later; veneer on the back apparently original

height 31 ¼ in.; width 34 ¼ in.; depth 19 ½ in.

79.4 cm; 87 cm; 49.5 cm

R.F. Lambe, Esq., London;

With Ronald A. Lee, London;

Mrs Charles Stuart;

Christie's London, 1 April 1993, lot 105;

The John Parry Collection, Christie's London, 24 March 2010, lot 38;

Private Collection, Greenwich, Connecticut;

Sotheby's New York, 20 October 2021, lot 25.

A. Bowett, English Furniture 1715-1740, Woodbridge 2009, p.101, figs. 3:14, 3:15

Dr Adam Bowett examines this particular commode in detail as part of his 2009 study Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740.1 He places it after 1730 on account of the ‘ovolo bead’ moulding to the base, and before 1740 on account of the cock-beading to the carcase, which was not generally popular in the 1740s. The fact that the side drawer could be fitted with a pen drawer leads him also to believe that the sliding surface above the drawers, while commonly labelled a ‘brushing slide’ today, may have actually been for writing. The unusual decision to veneer the back of this commode also supports this interpretation, since it would allow the piece to be moved into a central location within a room and viewed from all angles, opening up the possibility of multi-functional usage. Sheraton’s later description in The Cabinet Dictionary implies that the surface could be for writing when he described a ‘Lobby Chest’ as “a kind of half chest of drawers [… measuring] four drawers in height, rising to 3 feet in height” and “sometimes [with] a writing slider which draws out under the top”.2 However, a 1730 invoice from Benjamin Goodison for the apartments of the Princesses Royal at St James’s Palace notes that the “'three Wallnuttree Dressing Tables” have “Sliding Tables to each of them”,3 making their intention as dressing tables clear. As is often the case when speculating on the exact function of certain pieces of antique furniture, we have to bear in mind that many furniture pieces were desirable for their very adaptability, allowing those who lived with the pieces to tailor their relationship to the object depending on their own needs.

This chest's high-quality construction and particularly fine veneers have seen it find a place in the collection of several notable collectors of furniture – one of them was the important antiques dealer Ronald A. Lee, and another was the private collector John Parry. Parry, who generally focused on oak and walnut furniture, had sales in 1997 and 2010 – in the introduction to his 2010 sale at Christie’s, he noted that he chose to “retain a few pieces from the first collection which formed the nucleus of the present collection”,4 one of which was the present lot.


1 Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, Woodbridge, 2009, pp.101-103.

2 Thomas Sheraton, The Cabinet Dictionary, vol II, New York, 1970 reprint, p.261.

3 Bowett, opus. cit., p. 106, n. 21.

4 Christie's London, The John Parry Collection, 24 March 2010, p.2.