A fine quality George III period mahogany serpentine fronted chest of drawers, firmly attributed to Thomas Chippendale
English, c. 1770
Why we like it
The sturdy, robust proportions of this magnificent chest of drawers combined with splendid, wonderfully mellowed colour and natural patination make it a rare find these days. Superb quality, beautifully figured veneers, gloriously patinated surface throughout.
The form of this chest of drawers closely relates to a very similar three-drawer serpentine dressing chest supplied by Thomas Chippendale to Mersham-le-Hatch in 1768, rather unusually made in rosewood. It has similar proportions of the drawers, projecting serpentine top, and similar shape of the feet, which are laminated on the present example – another signature feature of the Chippendale’s workshop. Among other distinctive features, related to documented or attributed to Chippendale pieces, are the panelled back, chamfered drawer-stops, profile of the bottom moulding, and the red wash applied to the underside and backboards. The drawers are oak-lined with cedar bottoms, the locks are brass, two-lever, and the handles are of the same pattern that was used by Chippendale on the desk that he supplied to Dumfries House. The same canted corners appears on a smaller chest of drawers, attributed to Thomas Chippendale, sold Christie’s London, 22 May 2019, lot 31.
Other similar serpentine chests were supplied by Thomas Chippendale for Ninian Home at Paxton House, Scotland; Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke at Wilton House, Wiltshire and Sir Edward Knatchbull at Mersham le Hatch, Kent (see C.Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, figs. 203, 205 and 206).
Such simple and practical pieces intended for everyday use and ‘done in a neat but not an expensive manner’, to the same high quality standards as the more sophisticated examples, consisted a significant part of Thomas Chippendale’s oeuvre.