FINE ADAM DEMI-LUNE COMMODE ATTRIBUTED TO GEORGE BROOKSHAW CIRCA 1780
- Origin : England
- Circa Date: 1780
- Stock No: W1070
- Height: 89 cm. 35 ins.
- Width: 125 cm. 49 ins
- Depth : 53 cm. 20 ½ ins.
The painted panels after Angelica Kauffmann. The yellow Jura brocatelle marble top possibly original, above a leaf and beaded gilt frieze and a bowed panelled front with oval beaded reserve of a hooded seated classical female figure (probably emblematic of Love) within an entwined ribbon and berry border flanked by upright panels decorated with classical urns on plinths issuing wheatsheaves and leaves, further flanked by bowed cupboard doors, one with Cupid tethering a dove (emblematic of chastity), the other of Cupid emptying a ewer, within entwined ribbon and berry borders, each enclosing a shelf. All on a deep russet ground, on turned reeded and beaded gilt feet and turned toes. With a paper depository label under the marble and the backboard with an inventory number “GM67”.
Provenance: Blairman & Sons Ltd. (1953)
Literature: illustrated in, M. Jourdain and F. Rose, ‘English Furniture: The Georgian Period (1750-1830)’, 1953, p.145, pl.112.
E.T. Joy, ‘A Painted Neo-Classical commode’, Connoisseur, vol. 169, September-December, 1968, pp. 166-167
Lucy Wood, ‘George Brookshaw, Peintre Ebéniste par Extraordinaire’, Apollo, June 1991, p. 390, fig. 8
Lucy Wood, Lady Lever Art Gallery Catalogue of Commodes, 1994, pp. 246-253
Yvonne Jones, ‘George Brookshaw’, Furniture History Society newsletter 173 February 2009
Exhibition: Masterpiece Fair, London, 2013
This commode belongs to a group of closely related semi-circular commodes attributed to the cabinet-maker and botanical artist George Brookshaw. These include an example from the collection of Algernon Heber Percy, Hodnet Hall Shrophire, with reputed provenance from Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland (1714-86), at Northumberland House, Strand, sold Christie’s London, 23 November 1967, lot 116 and Sotheby’s London, 7 November 1997; a commode formerly at Dyrham Park; and a commode sold by James Orrock, to Sir W.H. Lever in 1903 (see L. Wood Catalogue of Commodes op. cit., p. P.246, footnote 13 and p. 247. figs 238 and 239 and No. 30, pp. 248-251). This group shares a very similar scheme of painted decoration carved guilloche borders. However this example is distinguished by its red-ground palette to the three front panels and the presence of a marble top as opposed to a painted top.
George Brookshaw established his cabinet-making business on Curzon Street by 1777. He later moved to 48 Great Marlborough Street in 1782, describing himself as a cabinet-maker, commode maker and ‘Painter Ebéniste par Extraordinaire’. Brookshaw was born in 1753, although nothing is known of his father’s trade, his brother is later recorded as a engraver working in Paris and Yvonne Jones, former head of Arts and Museums, Wolverhampton has recently discovered that Brookshaw was apprenticed to a Birmingham japanner. In 1778 he married Sobieski Grice, daughter of a wealthy Birmingham gunmaker and it may well of been her dowry that established him in business. He listed his specialism in painted furniture and ‘….a great variety of new fashioned chimney-pieces, to correspond with his furniture, which are all made in a style peculiar to himself, in copper and marble painted and burnt-in…’ His clients included the most fashionable patrons of the time including the Prince of Wales, Duke of Devonshire, Lord Delaval, the Duke of Beaufort and William Blathwayt . He last appears in the trade directories around 1794 and it would seem that he then set forth on a career as a botanical illustrator, publishing, A New Treatise on Flower Painting using the alias G. Brown although in 1816, a virtually identical work was published under the name George Brookshaw Esq. Lucy Wood documents the case for them being the same person in ‘George Brookshaw’, parts I and II, Apollo, May and June 1991, pp. 383-397 as well as speculating that the failure of his marriage and a withdrawal of capital investment may have resulted in the cabinet-making business ceasing to trade in the 1790s.