A Superb George III Satinwood and Sabicu Inlaid Secretaire Bookcase in the Manner of George Hepplewhite
Height: 94" Width: 43.25" Depth: 21.25"
Inventory Number 8416-212
The stepped pediment with a scrolling flower-head roundel carved surmount centered by a simulated stop-fluted pedestal with a carved classically ornamented urn, flanked by conforming urns; the upper portion of the cabinet with two solid paneled doors carved in shallow relief with recessed fan-form lunettes opening to reveal banks of six short satinwood lined drawers and flanking a central glazed door enclosing adjustable shelves; the projecting lower part with two simulated shallow drawer fronts enclosing a fully fitted secretaire drawer with leather lined writing surface, arched pigeon holes and small drawers, over three additional long graduated drawers; the sides of the cabinet with conforming sabicu banding; raised on bracket feet. Original throughout.
Gill and Reigate, Oxford Street, London
The Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
Hyde Park Antiques, Ltd.
The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Magowan
The DeYoung Museum, San Francisco.
Maquoid, P. The Age of Satinwood. Figure 182.
George Hepplewhite is considered one of the most influential designers of English furniture in the 18th century. Along with Chippendale and Sheraton, his designs for elegant furniture were extremely fashionable between the 1750’s and 1800. Very little is known of the personal history of Hepplewhite. There is no birth information. His death is recorded in 1786 when an auction was held to sell “the valuable stock in trade and household furniture of Mr. Hepplewhite, cabinet manufacturer deceased. “ (The Public Ledger, October 10, 1786) Two years later, in 1788, the first folio edition of his designs, Cabinet-maker and Upholster’s Guide, was published under the direction of Hepplewhite’s widow, Alice who most likely financed the endeavor through subscriptions. Further revised editions were published in 1789 and 1794.
In the introduction to the first edition Hepplewhite wrote that the goal of the designs was to “unite elegance and utility, and blend the useful with the agreeable…”. The 300 designs show the emergence of a neoclassical style that was heavily influenced by the Adams brothers. The present example is distinguished by the clarity of its outline ad its magnificent proportions. Without any loss of elegance, its rather complex geometric patterning is contained in a simple rectangular form. Any tendency toward severity is lessened by the rich color of the satinwood chosen as its principal wood, used in the solid, not as a veneer. This is heightened by the contrast with the sabIcu bandings. Equally impressive is he subtlety of the cornice, the design of which seems to have evolved from the earlier swan’s neck pediments. The shallow relief carving of the half fan medallions anchoring the narrow upper paneled doors is also quite unique.
836 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, 212-477-0033