england , circa 1790

A very rare George III Sheraton period satinwood, inlaid and painted cabinet on stand. The front of the cabinet opens to reveal a leather-lined writing surface with a nest of seven cedar-lined drawers. The front and sides with oval marine scenes are painted in the manner of Dominic Serres, R.A. (d.1793) Surmounted by its original grey marble top. The tablets on which the oval marine scenes on this cabinet appear are surrounded by borders painted en grisaille and gilt-wood pearl mouldings.           

Stock number

Height: 55¹/₂ in (141 cm)
Width: 29¹/₈ in (74 cm)
Depth: 18⁷/₈ in (48 cm)
This superb cabinet, intended for a lady's reception or dressing room, is designed in the French antique fashion popularised by Thomas Sheraton's The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, 1793, with its leather lined secretaire fall concealing a bank of drawers which may well have been intended to hold a collection of shells.

The front of the satinwood and ribbon-banded cabinet is inset with an Etruscan pearl-wreathed tablet that is japanned with an antique arabesque border framing a golden tablet with medallion vignette of a Neopolitan harbour, while the side tablets feature similar shipping scenes in the manner of the French artist Dominic Serres R.A. (d. 1793), Marine-Painter-in-Ordinary to George III. In evocation of the Water Element,  the purple ground border is decorated en grisaille in trompe l'oeil bronze green, with bull-rushes framing Neptune's trident supported by water-sprouting dolphins embowed on a pearled water-run; while the spandrel medallions feature ancient heroes. Such decorative furniture was popularised by the contemporary peintre ébénistes.

A related bonheur du jour writing table decorated with scenes painted in 1792 by Serres' son and successor John Thomas Serres (d. 1825) is in the Lady Lever Art Gallery (P. Macquoid, The Lady Lever Art Gallery, English Furniture, London, 1928, no. 342). Serres Junior worked for a time in Liverpool and his views of its port were published in 1797/98. A related cabinet incorporating a Wedgwood medallion has been attributed to Messrs. Seddon, Sons & Shackleton (see C. Gilbert, 'Seddons, Son & Shackleton', Furniture History, 1997, fig. 360).
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