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William and Mary Marquetry Chest of Drawers

1680 to 1690 England

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William and Mary Marquetry Chest of Drawers

A William and Mary walnut floral marquetry chest, circa 1690.

The rectangular ogee moulded top with central banded oval inlaid with spring flowers, birds and scrolls of acanthus, on ebony ground. The two short and two long graduating drawers are similarly inlaid with the exception of marquetry outside the main break-arch reserves of male and female sparrow, fledglings, nobleman spearing wild boar, leaves and flowers, all banded in a wide leafy cut marquetry banding. One of the most significant features are the marquetry break-arch reserve to the sides, where a raven feeds cherries to its chicks symbolising new beginnings and the cycle of life. Figural marquetry displayed on this chest is seldom seen from the period and displays a great level of skill and forethought.

According to Herbert Cescinsky in ‘English Furniture of the 18th Century’, the general spacing of marquetry during the period 1690-1705 into panels probably owed its inception to the copying of the Jacobean carved panels of the period, directly before the accession of William III. He argues that “the work of Holland is decidedly inferior in harmony of colouring, the English sycamore and plane-tree admitting of staining with colours of greater purity, and giving a much better effect, than the beech and hornbeam used for the purpose in Holland”.

A similarly designed marquetry table top is illustrated in A.Bowetts, ‘English Furniture 1660-1714 From Charles II to Queen Anne’, p.61, plate 2:43, showing the variety created by transposing elements of the design so that no two quadrants of marquetry are identical.

A similar chest from Clevedon Court, Somerset is illustrated in R. Edwards, ‘ The Dictionary Of English Furniture’, Vol II’, p.34, dig 16.

Condition
Provenance

Private collection – Cotswolds, England

Literature
Dimensions
H 33 in. x W 38 in. x D 22 in.
H 83.82 cm x W 96.52 cm x D 55.88 cm

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