A George III ormolu-mounted satinwood and marquetry serpentine commode almost certainly by Thomas Chippendale.
This commode, conceived in a transitional style between the rococo and the neoclassical, fits into a group of furniture by the Chippendale workshop sharing a similar outline and decorative repertoire. The distinctive inlaid roundel to the centre and the corresponding oval in the top relate to a commode and a secrétaire à abbatant supplied by the master for the State Bedroom at Harewood House, Yorkshire, England. All three pieces are constructed in satinwood and rosewood.
The unusual ormolu mounts on this commode have so far not been discovered on any other Chippendale commission. It is possible that they were bought in for the piece rather than carved and cast specially for the Chippendale workshop.
The furniture at Harewood has been moved many times since it was first delivered some 250 years ago. The house too has undergone many changes in that time, with each generation of owners making alterations to suit their needs. It is therefore no surprise that some pieces within the collection have become surplus to requirements.
This commode was probably intended for the Saloon, where no wall space was left for it after Barry’s refurbishment. By the 1950s the commode had been moved to the Green Drawing Room (formerly the White and now the Cinnamon Drawing Room), where it was photographed by Country Life.
Note: The Victorian wooden knob handles, which were later additions, have been replaced with brass axe drop handles.
1795 Inventory for Harewood House, p. 30.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. I, p. 198 and vol. II, p. 129, fig. 231.
Lucy Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, 1994, pp. 54–7.
Temple Newsam House, Thomas Chippendale – A Festival of Britain Exhibition, 1951, p. 8, exhibit 10.
Gordon Nares, ‘The Splendours of Harewood’, Country Life annual 1957, p. 42; ‘The Green Drawing Room, formerly known as the White Drawing Room’.
Clifford Musgrave, Adam and Hepplewhite and other Neo-Classical Furniture, 1966, pl. 118.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. II, p. 128, fig. 228.
Exhibitions: Temple Newsam House, Leeds, ‘Thomas Chippendale – A Festival of Britain Exhibition’, 8 June – 15 July 1951, organised by the Leeds Art Collections Fund; no. 10.
Supplied by Thomas Chippendale to Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood, for Harewood House, Yorkshire, England.
Acquired directly from the 7th Earl of Harewood, KBE, in the 1960s for a private collection, London, England.
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