English. Early Nineteenth Century.


Width: 51" (129.5 cm);
Height: 37 1/4 (94.5 cm);
Depth: 13 3/4" (35 cm).

Of rosewood, giltwood, gilt composition and gilt brass. Faux books and mirror glass. Each with white marble top with straight front and concave ends, rests upon a plain frieze set with giltwood roundel and patereae and centered by a giltwood star motif. The central door with plain lozenge pattern brass grills encloses a panel of three rows of faux books. The door is flanked by ebonzied circular parcel gilt columns surmounted by Egyptian busts. The concave ends with three fixed shelves and mirror glass panel backing. The whole raised on four massive giltwood leonine feet with gadrooned collars. One mirror panel a recent replacement using old glass. Small repairs and replacements to gilt detailing. The tops old but with repairs and slightly shortened at the widest extremities.

Old distinguished UK West County collection.

The cabinets may be considered some of the most sophisticated examples of Regency furniture whose design so successfully melds elegant late ançien regime French influence with a more informal Englishness, typified by the use of leather book spines and sparing but poignant use of sculpted ornament. They are also illustrative of the revival of interest in ancient architecture and decoration that informed the English furniture design of the early nineteenth century.

Through the second half of the eighteenth century a series of pioneering scholarly studies by men such as Robert Wood, Robert Adam, James Stuart and Nicholas Revett made the artefacts and remains of the classical world increasingly familiar to the English connoisseur; whilst Charles Heatchcote Tatham’s publication in 1800 of his Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture introduced a new range of classical motifs into English furniture design. Napoleon’s military campaign in Egypt brought a series of publications in its wake, including from 1803 the exhaustive twenty-three volume official account Description de l’Egypte, that came to be treated as ornamental source books for those designers working in the newly fashionable Egyptian taste. These texts provided the inspiration for a new antiquarian approach to furniture design; led by Thomas Hope, who published his widely influential Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in May 1807, and manifested in the designs of George Smith.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.