A George III black-lacquer-mounted breakfront side cabinet attributed to Thomas Chippendale, circa 1770. Estimate 40,000 — 60,000 USD. Photo Sotheby’s.
The breakfronted top above a conforming case fitted with three frieze drawers above a guilloche-carved edge and three cupboard doors opening to drawers, raised on tapering square legs ending in block feet; mounted all over with Chinese lacquer veneers. height 37 1/2 in.; width 45 3/4 in.; depth 19 3/4 in., 95.3 cm; 116.2 cm; 50.2 cm
PROVENANCE: Edwin Lascelles, Harewood House
Thence by decent, the Earl of Harewood, Harewood House
purchased from the above in 1951 by John Tillotson, Esq.
Partridge (Fine Arts) Ltd., London
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ANDREW GORDON
Notes: The present commode was bought from the Earl of Harewood of Harewood House in 1951 and fits into the known group of lacquer-mounted commodes which Thomas Chippendale supplied to Edwin Lascelles in the early 1770s. The Harewood commodes were sold in the Christie’s sale of 28 June, 1951, lots 74, 75 and 76. These three commodes were sold subsequently at Christie’s 22 November 1973, lots 56, 57 and 58. (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, New York, 1978, vol. I, p. 197 and vol. II, pp. 122-123, figs. 215, 217, 218) The present commode is similarly mounted in Chinese black lacquer coupled with japanning. The construction of the piece is very fine and the handles to the interior drawers are identical to small handles used by Chippendale in many of his documented pieces. It is therefore reasonable to assume that this may be the third commode referred to as being in Lord Harewood’s Bedchamber and the Couch Room, both on the principal floor, in the 1795 inventory at Harewood and was probably made by Chippendale’s workshop. (E. Lennox-Boyd,Masterpieces of English Furniture: The Gerstenfeld Collection, London, 1998, p. 87)
Chippendale’s commission at Harewood House was the most valuable and probably most extensive of his career. The first documented record of Chippendale’s involvement at Harewood is in a letter dated 19 July 1767 from the cabinet-maker to another of his patrons, Sir Rowland Winn of Nostell Priory, in which he wrote ‘As soon as I had got to Mr Lascelles and look’d over the whole of ye house I found that [I] Shou’d want a Many designs & knowing that I had time Enough I went to York to do them’.
Edwin Lascelles had commissioned John Carr of York to design him a new house shortly after receiving the huge inheritance upon his father’s death. Early plans by Sir William Chambers were rejected and Carr’s plans were shown to the young Robert Adam in 1758, who had freshly returned from three years of study in Italy, with a view to the interiors. Adam did little to alter Carr’s plan, who had already been involved at Harewood on the stables, farm, house and model village. The foundation stone of the new house was laid in 1759, Adam’s decorative schemes date to 1765 and Chippendale’s visit in 1767 would have been about four years before the house was inhabitable. What ensued was a commission of considerable scale. Whilst the early invoices for furniture have never been discovered, a reference contained within the major surviving invoice refers to earlier work, prior to 1772, amounting to £3,024, 19.s 3d. The major invoice that relates to work to June 1777 was nearly £7,000 and as Christopher Gilbert notes in his seminal work on Chippendale it is likely that the full commission exceeded £10,000, a vast sum at that time. The commission continued past the retirement of Chippendale Snr. in 1776, overseen by his son until 1797. To give an indication of the importance and significance of this commission, the sheer cost magnificently out-weighed that of many of Chippendale’s other highly regarded clients. For example, Sir Lawrence Dundas’ bill amounted to £1,300 for the work between 1763-66 which included the ornate chairs made to Robert Adam’s design and supplied for Arlington Street, London, and Sir Rowland Winn’s patronage at Nostell amounted to around £2,000 for the work undertaken up to 1771.
Sotheby’s. Important English and European Decorative Arts, New York | 22 oct. 2014, 10:00 AM