An 18th century Swiss/German? walnut, oak and plum marquetry Schrank/Commode
Lot 178
An 18th century German walnut, oak and plum marquetry Schrank/Commode
Sold for £3,600 (US$ 6,047) inc. premium
Lot Details
An 18th century German walnut, oak and plum marquetry Schrank/Commode
in two parts, of arc-en arbelete outline, the later shaped cornice above a pair of strapwork inlaid doors enclosing an oak interior with central cupboard door inlaid with a classical figure surmounted by a short drawer with applied pediment surrounded by eight drawers above a later slide, the lower part with three long drawers on a shaped plinth base and bun feet, 128cm wide, 59cm deep, 187cm high.


  • Provenance: Baroness Frieda von Usslar nee Haerlin, daughter of the founders of the renowned Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Hamburg. The Baroness lived from the 1950s until her death in 1975 near Painswick, Gloucestershire;
    Thence by descent to her daughter.

    According to the vendor's family history this 18th century Schrank arrived mysteriously in the von Usslar family collection, together with a portrait of a young boy, some 300 years ago.

    The von Usslars and von Uslar-Gleichens have since the 13th century been based in the small town of Uslar near Goettingen in Germany. The portrait that was thought to have arrived in the family collection with the schrank, is of a boy aged about 3, attributed by leading Weimar academics and curators to Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751–1829).

    J.H.W. Tischbein is perhaps best known for his portrait of J.W. Goethe, (1749–1832) the great German poet, scientist and philiosopher, whom he accompanied and painted on his Grand Tour in Italy.

    Von Usslar family tradition has maintained that the young boy pictured is Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772 – 1806), son of Queen Louise of Prussia, later soldier, musician and romantic figure of his age. The Schrank has always been referred to by the von Usslars as the Kõnigin Luise Schrank, or Queen Louise bureau. Queen Louise of Prussia (nee Luise von Brandenburg-Schwedt) was wife to the younger brother of Frederick The Great. A family portrait, also by Tischbein, shows Queen Louise with her then (1777) three surviving children: Luise (1770-1836) Heinrich (1771-1790) and Ludwig, known as Louis Ferdinand (1772-1790) then aged 5. This forms an interesting, if unconfirmed, link with the present Schrank, which is both contemporary – in parts - with the portrait and has remained for three centuries with it and the persistent story of a clandestine liaison between Queen Louise and an unknown von Usslar.