A Queen Anne Stained Field Maple "Mulberry-Wood" Bureau, in the Manner of Coxed and Woster
Height: 41" Width: 40.5" Depth: 22.5"
Inventory Number 8214-150
Inlaid throughout in rosewood crossbanding with pewter stringing, the leather-lined fall-front enclosing a fitted interior of pigeonholes and drawers, the removable central compartment revealing additional secret drawers; over two short and three long graduated drawers raised on later bun feet; brass pulls and escutcheons are replacements.
A. Bowett, "English Furniture 1660-1714 From Charles II to Queen Anne", 2002, p. 225, pls. 7:57 & 7:58.
The present bureau is finely veneered in burr maple, a wood often used by John Coxed (fl. 1711-1718) and later Grace Coxed and Thomas Woster (fl. 1719-1735). Trading from the White Swan Workshop, St. Paul's Churchyard, the firm labeled their furniture: 'At the White Swan in St. Paul's Church-Yard, London; makes and sells Cabinets, Book-Cases, Chests of Drawers, Scrutores [sic]; and Looking-glasses of all sorts at reasonable rates'. Adam Bowett, Furniture History, 'Labeled Furniture from the White Swan Workshop (1711-1735)', vol. XXXIX, 2003, pp. 71-98, cautions: '... it must be emphasised that the use of stained burr maple veneers, with or without crossbanding and stringing, does not on its own constitute adequate proof of (Coxed and Woster's) authorship. The technique of staining veneers in this way was widely practised, and scores of pieces survive which otherwise bear no relation, either technically or stylistically, to the White Swan oeuvre.'
This technique involved the cutting of the roots of the field maple tree into veneers, laying the veneers down onto the carcass and then pouring nitric acid (aqua fortis) onto the veneers to open up the grain. With the grain open a mixture of soot and oil was rubbed into the grain to obtain the desired marbleized effect. The veneer was then sealed with a polish and waxed. It was generally thought that the desire for a marbleized effect arose as a result of people seeing, on the Grand Tour, the fashion of the Italian cabinet makers of making furniture out of marble.