Jean Flagler Matthews, Brookside, Rye, New York, thence by descent Christie's New York, October 12, 1996, lot 214
The boldly proportioned pediment and frieze with deeply carved acanthus scrolls centering a satyr's mask is typical of the late Palladian style in English furniture design in the manner of the architect and tastemaker William Kent (d.1748). Moulded broken triangular pediments remained a popular element for terminating bureau cabinets and bookcases well into the mid-18th century, often seen in the work of the royal cabinetmakers William Hallett (c.1707-81) and his apprentice William Vile. A bureau cabinet with a similar pediment was in the celebrated Percival Griffiths collection, ill. Edwards and Macquoid, The Dictionary of the English Furniture (London 1954), Vol.I, p.145 fig.48, and the form was still considered sufficiently fashionable to appear in both the First (1754, pl.XLLVII) and Third (1762, pl.CVII) editions of Chippendale's Director. Jean Flagler Matthews (d.1979) was the granddaughter of Standard Oil founder Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913), one of America's richest men and famous for developing Palm Beach and Miami as holiday resorts. It was she who was responsible for saving Whitehall, Flagler's Gilded Age mansion in Palm Beach, from demolition in 1959 and overseeing its conversion into the Flagler Museum.
In good condition overall and ready to place with lightly polished finish. Scattered minor scratches, nicks and stains, and small age cracks on the rear of the cabinet sides and the lower front corner of the proper left bureau side. Both sides of the fall front and lower proper left side of the bureau with scuffing. Some dentils replaced, one lacking and one partially lacking. Minor losses to extremities of carved decoration and moulded bottom edge of cabinet. Interior lacking folio slides and formerly with removable compartment. Drawers with mahogany linings with some cracks to bottoms, and age cracks to back panels of carcase. Slant front and long drawer below with slight warping and an age split below drawer escutcheon, visible in online photos; this does not hinder proper opening and closing. Repairs to three feet. Handles later. 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.