The cabinet-maker John Belchier, a Huguenot immigrant, was active in London between 1687 and 1753. His business moved to St. Paul’s Churchyard in around 1717, when it was first recorded at the Sun Insurance archives.
Perhaps to avoid confusion with his competitors (such as Giles Grendey, whose japanned work is certainly very similar), Belchier labelled some but not all of the furniture that he produced. Amongst his labelled pieces is a red japanned bureau cabinet of identical form, supplied to Erddig in Wales.
The layout of the bureau section in this item is identical. Only the cabinet section varies slightly, with the Erddig piece having fewer drawers, suggesting that it is perhaps a slightly cheaper version. The japanned decoration on the two cabinets also has many similarities.
This bureau cabinet retains virtually all the original metalwork. Two small escutcheons and a number of brass straps securing the loop handles are replacements. The turned bun feet and the giltwood finials are original. The mercury silvered bevelled mirror plates are 18th century replacements.
Most japanned work is either black or red: green is one of the rarer colours.
Percy Macquoid, A History of English Furniture, vol. II, ‘The Age of Walnut’, 1905, p. 145, fig. 132.
R. W. Symonds, Old English Walnut and Lacquer Furniture, 1923, pl. XXXVIII.
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, revised edition, 1954, vol. I, p. 135, fig. 24.
Christie’s, ‘Important English and Continental Furniture’, 17 October 1981, lot 161.
Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660–1840, 1986, pp. 59–60. Monique Riccardi-Cubitt, The Art of the Cabinet, 1992, illus. 78–9.
Christopher Gilbert, A Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700–1840, 1996, pp. 82–8.
Ronald Phillips Ltd., Reflections of the Past, Mirrors 1685–1815 (catalogue), 2004, pp. 58–61.
Harris Lindsay Ltd., Works of Art (catalogue), 2005, pp. 24–5.
Illustrated: Connoisseur magazine, June 1979, with Mallett & Son Ltd.
Lanto Synge, Mallett’s Great English Furniture, 1991, p. 62, illus. 56.
Clive Edwards, Encyclopaedia of Materials, Trades and Techniques, 2000, pl. IV and back cover.
Mallett & Son Ltd., London, England, 1979.
Private collection, USA.
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