Each mounted with forty-two various-sized rectangular reverse-glass paintings decorated with named views of Venice, Naples, Rome, and capriccios; with arched and moulded cornice above a central door opening to a shelved interior; the sides with crossbanded cupboard doors each opening to five small mahogany-lined drawers; on conforming stands with square tapering legs ending in block feet. Legs and feet later.


PROVENANCE: Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill (1876–1964), Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Prior, the cabinets possibly commissioned for Northwick Park by John Rushout, 1st Baron Northwick (1738–1800). However, more likely commissioned for the 4th Duke of Marlborough (d. 1817)—a longterm client of Ince and Mayhew—and descended to his great grandson Captain Spencer-Churchill.


Cabinet closely related to Robert Adam's design for the Kimbolton Cabinet, executed by Ince and Mayhew around 1744. See H. Roberts and C. Cator, Industry and Ingenuity: The Partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew, 2022, p. 162.

Additional Information

This extraordinary pair of cabinets was specially designed as a vehicle of display for 18th century Italian Grand Tour souvenirs and bear comparison with the more elaborate example designed by Robert Adam in 1771 for the Duchess of Manchester to provide a setting for eleven panels of pietra dura.

Thoughtfully mounted to the front of both cabinets is a splendid array of Italian reverse-glass paintings depicting various buildings and landmarks from the ancient and modern world. In all likelihood, these diminutive paintings were originally designed to adorn small boxes and tabletop cabinets yet ultimately were assigned to a much more impressive prospect. All eighty-four paintings—clearly executed by the same skilled, yet unknown artist—are after designs by some of the most quoted and renowned printmakers of the 16th through 17th centuries, including Maarten van Heemskerck (1498–1574), Maerten De Vos (1532–1603), and Lieven Cruyl (1634–1720) and most notably Israël Silvestre (1621–1691), whose work is referenced here no less than a dozen instances.

The cabinets, firmly attributed to the partnership of Messrs. Ince and Mayhew, echo the classical themes of the paintings with their domed pediments and central segments evocative of temples, centered by an arched panel flanked by ionic columns beneath a dentilled frieze. The use of exotic timbers, such as satinwood and amaranth (purpleheart) inlay in this instance, is a common characteristic of the firm’s oeuvre. Likewise, is the clever inclusion of concealed compartments, such as the discreetly opening doors on either side of the cabinets, which reveal a series of small drawers retaining their original circular gilt-brass pulls.

From 1764, Ince and Mayhew worked with Robert Adam on several notable commissions, culminating in their “ability to produce very early on furniture in the most startling advanced Neo-classical taste” (G. Beard and C. Gilbert, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, 1986, p. 592). Indeed, this pair of cabinets closely relates to the Kimbolton Cabinet, “one of the most celebrated pieces of English neoclassical furniture in existence” (H. Roberts and C. Cator, Industry and Ingenuity: The Partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew, 2022, p. 162). The 4th Duke of Manchester (1737-1788) commissioned Robert Adam to design the “highly individual” cabinet for his wife Elizabeth Montagu, Duchess of Manchester. It was also created to display Grand Tour memorabilia, in this case a set of 11 Florentine pietra dura panels (ibid.). The 4th Duke commissioned Ince and Mayhew to make the cabinet around 1774, presumably once the design was finalized. The firm chose to partner with Boulton and Fothergill to supply their finest quality ormolu mounts to the specified design (ibid., pp. 162-163). The masterful fusion of Grand Tour panels seamlessly integrated into the architectural cabinet, further adorned with ormolu accents and refined satinwood and rosewood marquetry was together exemplary of the firm’s best work of the 1770s, and the commissioner of this pair of cabinets, which are a more sober manifestation of the concept, surely must have been inspired by it.

An Exceptionally Rare Pair of George III Satinwood and Italian Painted Reverse- Glass Cabinets-On-Stands, Attributed To Ince and Mayhew

CIRCA 1780

Height: 82" Width: 49" Depth: 18.5"

Inventory Number: 8523-209


Price Available Upon Request