An Exceptional George III Satinwood and Amaranth Marquetry Commode
Height: 32" Width: 46.25" Depth: 19"
Inventory Number 8477
The cross-banded top having a central oval medallion finely inlaid with a flower-filled basket, over a pair of doors, each with superbly executed panels of classical urns and exotic birds, opening to reveal floral spray inlays to the reverse, set on a vibrant ground, and enclosing one long and four short zebrawood cross-banded drawers centering an open shelf; set between keeled corners terminating in splayed feet.
This exquisitely inlaid commode is a quintessential example of the George III "French fashion." Sacred urns displayed within Roman medallions harmonize with the 1760s Etruscan columbarium style introduced by the Rome-trained court architect Robert Adam (d.1792). The urns, of bacchic wine-krater form enriched with reeds, are displayed on festive altar-pedestals decked with fruit and attended by exotic birds; while their foliated medallions are accompanied by laurelled Roman foliage issuing from the Grecian ribbon-fretted corners of their tablet frames. The top is similarly inlaid with a trompe l'oeil of a flower-filled basket in the Louis Quatorze Roman fashion popularized by the engraved oeuvres of the French artist Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (d.1699). In the interior, drawers surround around a central night-table compartment; and sprigs of roses, sacred to Venus, are inlaid on the doors.
The fashion for inlaid commodes was promoted in the 1760s by the Paris-trained ebeniste Pierre Langlois (d.1767) of Tottenham Court Road. The serpentine commode shares many of its decorative details - such as the urn-filled oval medallions, geometric angled surrounds, floral clasped borders and flower-filled basket - and its simple deal construction with a group of commodes and chest-commodes identified by Lucy Wood in her Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, group 17, pp. 166-170. While the name of Langlois and other preeminent cabinetmakers such as the Royal cabinetmaker John Cobb are used in conjunction with this type of decoration, Lucy Wood proposes an immigrant maker for the group. Related medallions also feature on the group linked with one supplied in 1772 for Corsham Court, Wiltshire by Cobb (L. Wood, op. cit., p.91, figs. 75-77).