An impressive and monumental rosewood Regency kneehole bureau cabinet with ormolu mounts of exceptional quality, attributed to Seddon and Morel, the central roll-top opening to reveal a fitted secretaire in satinwood with a sliding leather-inset reading slope, small drawers and ebony pigeon holes, all above two frieze drawers and cupboards with fabric-lined grilles, the upper section comprising four mirrored doors each enclosing an adjustable shelf and a scrolling cornice.
This extremely unusual piece of furniture can be thought of as a kneehole desk with a superstructure, a writing cabinet on a pedestal base or as a bureau cabinet with a kneehole section. Although examples of this kind of furniture were produced from the early 18th century onwards they are very rare and no designs for them seem to have survived in the usual design books. That may suggest that these pieces were not often produced for stock by cabinetmakers, rather they were bespoke pieces for specific clients and to suit particular spaces.
In practical terms, the design works extremely well, with the functions of several pieces of large furniture combining in one, thus allowing a considerable saving in floor space in a library or drawing room of the day.
What sets the current piece apart even further from the small number of other surviving examples is the use of exceptionally fine ormolu mounts, very much in the manner of Morel and Seddon. The firm of Morel and Seddon is most famous for the furniture produced for the King’s apartments at Windsor Castle during the 1820s. In fact, an ormolu-mounted door produced by the firm as part of this project, and illustrated on the front cover of Hugh Roberts’ ‘For the King’s Pleasure: The Furnishing and Decoration of George IV’s Apartments at Windsor Castle’ features very similar corner mounts to those used on the mirrored panels on our piece. In the case of the Seddon door, the direction of the mounts is reversed but they are certainly very similar in design and quality of execution.