A George III mahogany serpentine chest of drawers almost certainly by Thomas Chippendale. The chest of drawers retains the original brass swan-neck handles. The surface has acquired a beautiful patination and colour. The concealed castors are original. The commode retains a paper label to the reverse side inscribed in ink: ‘Sir Lawrence Dundas at Aske Hall near Richmond Yorkshire and care of Major Lamb Collins Rookton’.
Note: Two pommels and three back plates have been replaced.
THE DUNDAS COMMISSION 1763–1766
Sir Lawrence Dundas engaged many leading cabinet-makers of the time, but relied on Chippendale for high-class mahogany furniture, according to Christopher Gilbert. His exceptional wealth allowed him to lavishly furnish his many homes, and he commissioned items from Chippendale almost simultaneously for Aske Hall in Yorkshire, Moor Park in Hertfordshire, and 19 Arlington Street in London. Part of this commission was the celebrated suite of seat furniture for Arlington Street, which is to date the only proven commission for which Chippendale worked directly to designs by Robert Adam.
No documented evidence has been found to conclusively establish Chippendale as the maker of this chest of drawers, but its construction points firmly to his workshop.
The same original brass handles can be found on several of Chippendale’s documented commissions. These include a lady’s secrétaire at Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, England, supplied in 1766, a chest on chest at Nostell Priory and chest of drawers at Wilton House, Wiltshire, England.
The composition of the mouldings corresponds with typical Chippendale output, whilst the red clay wash to the underside of the chest further confirms its authorship. The blocking off on the underside behind the feet is built up in horizontal layers in the typical Chippendale manner, with each layer set at 90 degrees to the one before to create extra strength, and to allow adhesions to the bracket feet.
Arthur T. Bolton, ‘19 Arlington Street: a residence of the Marquess of Zetland’, Country Life, 17 September 1921, pp. 350–54.
Arthur T. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, vol. II, pp. 301–3, index pp. 34, 69.
Anthony Coleridge, ‘Sir Lawrence Dundas and Chippendale’, Apollo, September 1967, p. 198.
John Harris, ‘The Dundas empire’, Apollo, September 1967, pp. 176–7.
Eileen Harris, The Furniture of Robert Adam, 1973, pp. 53, 65, 77, 91 & 99–100.
Geoffrey Beard, The Work of Robert Adam, 1978, p. 66.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. I, pp. 154–8.
Sir Lawrence Dundas for Aske Hall, Yorkshire, England.
By descent in the Dundas family until 2015.
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