An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin

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Lot 190TP
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets
the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin

Sold for £ 31,500 (US$ 38,171) inc. premium
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets
the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
Each drawer and the central door mounted with a pietra dura and pietra paesina tablet depicting Italianate villages and rural landscapes, with ebonised and boxwood strung borders, the ogee moulded cornice above ten short drawers encompassing a central door, enclosing five featherbanded drawers, flanked by marble pilasters carved with Composite capitals, with four secret catch-activated and spring-loaded bookends and a conforming marble inset drawer enclosing compartments for stationery, the stand comprising one long drawer with a hinged top inset with a baize surface, on square section cabriole legs, the drawer linings of two bookends carved: 'T.S., 1820' & 'W.G., 1820', 111cm wide x 56cm deep x 170cm high, (43 1/2in wide x 22in deep x 66 1/2in high)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The offered lot formerly belonged to Brigadier Edward George Hall CB MBE and had remained within the Hall family for an unknown length of time prior to his ownership.
    Upon Edward George's death in 1968, the present cabinet on stand was passed down to his second son, Eric Peter Hall FRCS.
    In turn, following Eric Peter's death, it was bequeathed to the current owner and vendor.
    However due to the latter's service overseas, the piece was looked after by his father, Major General Edward Michael Hall CB MBE, first son of Brigadier E.G. Hall.
    Subsequently with the vendor's mother until taken up by the current owner in 2017.

    Featured
    Brigadier E.G. Hall's first son, later Major General Edward Michael Hall CB MBE, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers at the time he sent photographs, along with a letter dated 19 June 1956, to Country Life magazine. Within the letter he enquires as to the date of both the cabinet work and the inset plaques, as well as the latter's country of origin.
    In response, the then Lieut. Col. E.M. Hall received a letter, which was dated 3 July 1956, from the Assistant Editor of Country Life confirming that the magazine: 'hopes to reproduce one or more of the photographs among our "Collectors' Questions"'.
    A short while later the cabinet on stand featured in the "Collectors' Questions" section of Country Life, 23 August 1956, within which article it is erroneously stated that the tablets are made of scagliola rather than pietra dura, or indeed more accurately a combination of the latter with pietra paesina.
    Subsequently Ralph Edwards corrects this mistake, evidently made by the Country Life furniture expert, when in a return letter he suggests that the plaques are in fact: 'coloured marbles (or pietra dura)'.

    Comparables
    Four related German cabinets dating to the period 1710-20, which house very similar Italian pietra dura tablets, also apparently from the late 17th/early 18th century, are illustrated in H. Kreisel, Die Kunst des Deutschen Mobels, Vol II, figs. 89, 114, 115, 183 & 184. Of these cabinets the most similar in terms of overall concept and form to the present model dates to circa 1720 and is housed at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel, in Hesse, Idem, fig 114. However the closest with regard to its architectural appearance and the composition of the plaques themselves is the one dated circa 1710, Ferdinand Plitzner, Eyrichshof, Wiesentheid, Schloss, Idem, fig.'s 183-4. This latter version has eleven hardstone and marble panels dispersed in a comparable manner and likewise one finds a central arched tablet to the top. Whilst it also incorporates Corinthian columns flanking its central door which are reminiscent of the Composite pilasters located in the same place on the above.

    Several works of English 18th century furniture inlaid with Italian pietra dura 'landscape' tablets are widely known, but the vast majority of the carcass work involved therein dates to either the second or third quarter of the 1700s. A wonderful case in point is the George II mahogany cabinet on stand which sold Christie's, London, 6 July 2017, The Exceptional Sale, lot 6. However in relation to the present example, two ebonised cabinets are of greater significance since they possess the same number of plaques arranged in a virtually identical manner, while having other conforming features such as marble pilasters flanking the central door and a prominent demi-lune upper tablet. Both appear in A.M. Massinelli, Hardstones, The Gilbert Collection, 2000, London, pp.'s 41-46, fig.'s 5 & 6.

    The first, Idem, fig. 5, which is pictured set upon a late 18th century parcel gilt stand and was with Partridge Fine Arts in 1985, comprises very similar hardstone and marble 'landscapes', which in turn closely relate to those on another cabinet formerly at Villa Poggio Imperiale. Also it seems that this is the exact same previously illustrated, albeit on a different giltwood stand in the manner of William Kent, in G. Beard & J. Goodison, English Furniture, 1500-1840, 1987, Oxford, p. 79. The second, Idem, fig. 6, which consists of late 18th century cabinet work set upon a later giltwood stand, was housed at Wingfield Castle before it was sold Christie's, London, 4 October 1967 and then subsequently recorded with Mallett and Son, London, in 1969.

    In terms of further English pieces inset with comparable panels, two documented works are certainly significant, even though they date to approximately fifty years later than the offered lot. Both seem to exemplify rare furniture commissioned by wealthy gentlemen and noblemen upon their return home from the Grand Tour. Such items were devised in part as elegant and fashionable means of displaying some of their most treasured smaller 'trophies' purchased, or possibly on occasion 'obtained', whilst they were abroad. Crucially these activities coincided with the beginning of the Neoclassical movement sweeping across Europe.

    One of these is the celebrated satinwood, rosewood and marquetry cabinet on stand inlaid with Italian hardstone pictorial plaques made during the period, 1771-1775. These particularly colourful 'pictures' are signed and dated: 'Baccio Cappeli fecit anno 1709, Fiorenza'. Added to this, the carcass work was executed by the firm of Mayhew and Ince, the gilt mounts were made by Matthew Boulton while overall it follows a Robert Adam design which is dated 1 June 1771. This masterpiece was commissioned by the Duchess of Manchester for Kimbolton Castle, in Cambridgeshire. See Georgian Furniture, Victoria and Albert Museum, revised and edited by D. Fitzgerald, 1969, Cheltenham and London, pl. 97; M. Tomlin, Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture, 1972, pp.'s 104-5, N/4; P. Macquoid & R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. I, 2000, New York, pl. VI.

    The other is a rosewood serpentine commode attributed to Pierre Langlois junior (d. 1781), which employs similar pietra dura inserts to those on the present model, sold Christie's, London, 8 July 1999, English Furniture, lot 110. This Langlois commode previously featured in a trade advertisement for H. Blairman & Sons Ltd., The Connoisseur, June 1954, p. 32 and then in an article by W. Rieder called "More on Pierre Langlois", The Connoisseur, September 1975, pp.'s 11-13 (footnote 10). Possibly executed almost a decade earlier, a further related marble topped commode - the front of which is also inset with pietra dura tablets depicting 'Italian landscapes' - has been attributed to Pierre Langlois senior. Previously with Frank Partridge and Sons, London, this forerunner is illustrated in P. Thornton & W. Rieder, "Pierre Langlois, Ebeniste", The Connoisseur, 1972, Vol. CLXXIX, p. 107, fig. 5. Both father and son Langlois were based in Tottenham Court Road, a renowned area at that time for cabinet makers.

    Finally, although the above walnut cabinet on stand is most likely either of English or German origin, it is nonetheless interesting to note that there also appears to be a loosely connected Italian body of work as well. Yet these tend to be ebony pieces produced either during the 17th century or dating to the late 17th/early 18th century, a prominent example of which is a pietra dura and pietra paesina inlaid cabinet which sold Christie's, London, 22 October 2010, 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, lot 633.

    Documentation
    Photocopies of the following paperwork, listed in chronological order, are available to read online at www.bonhams.com:
    - A typewritten and signed letter from the Assistant Editor of Country Life, WC2, dated 3 July 1956, addressed to Lieut. Col. E.M. Hall, c/o United Service Club, Pall Mall, SW1.
    - The "Collectors' Questions" section from Country Life, 23 August 1956, which includes at the top of the article E.M. Hall's original letter to the magazine, dated 19 June 1956.
    - A hand written letter addressed from Ralph Edwards, Suffolk House, Chiswick Mall, W4, in response to the Country Life article, signed but undated.

    Literature
    H. Kreisel, Die Kunst des Deutschen Mobels, Vol II, 1983, Munich.
    A.M. Massinelli, Hardstones, The Gilbert Collection, 2000, London.
    G. Beard & J. Goodison, English Furniture, 1500-1840, 1987, Oxford.
    Georgian Furniture, Victoria and Albert Museum, revised and edited by D. Fitzgerald, 1969, Cheltenham and London.
    M. Tomlin, Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture, 1972.
    P. Macquoid & R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. I, 2000, New York.
    W. Rieder, "More on Pierre Langlois", The Connoisseur, September 1975.
    P. Thornton & W. Rieder, "Pierre Langlois, Ebeniste", The Connoisseur, 1972, Vol. CLXXIX.
Contacts
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
An important early 18th century walnut and marble mounted cabinet on stand inset with eleven Italian pietra dura and pietra paesina tablets the Italian tablets late 17th/early 18th century, the cabinet work circa 1720 and either English or German in origin
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Lot will be moved to an offsite storage location (Cadogan Tate, Auction House Services, 241 Acton Lane, London NW10 7NP, UK) and will only be available for collection from this location at the date stated in the catalogue. Please note transfer and storage charges will apply to any lots not collected after 14 calendar days from the auction date.

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