Painted Satnwood Cylinderfronted Bureau Cabinet

In the possession of Messis. Colling & Voung. 6 ft. 2-i ins. high x 3 ft. o ins. wide x 1 ft. 9 ins. deep. Date about 1790.

feature of this kind, once introduced, was freely copied for many years after. It has already been pointed out on several occasions that the date of a design feature really gives the maximum, but by no means the minimum, age of a piece. A cabinet may have the character of the Sheraton period, from 1790 to 1800, and we can safely assert that such an example could not have been made before such a date. There is no evidence, however, in the design, nor even in the workmanship, to indicate this as the actual date of manufacture, and even the state of the piece itself is no really reliable criterion. It is in the combination of all these, together with an exact acquaintance of the species of woods imported at the different periods, and the knowledge of the dates when fashions waxed and waned, which enables an expert to form a reliable opinion. The knowledge of woods is one of the most reliable weapons in the armoury of the expert—or the forger. The districts, and even the countries, from which eighteenth century mahogany was imported are now cleared of timber. There are many noticeable differences between the mahogany of Cuba, Tabasco, Honduras, the Bahamas, and other parts of Central America which enable exact opinions to be given, supported on unmistakable evidence.

  1. 293 is a somewhat unusual example of the later Sheraton period. The upper doors are veneered with curl mahogany, banded with satinwood, and with a brass astragal on the meeting styles. Below is a pull-down flap in the centre, fitted behind as a secretaire with the usual small drawers and pigeon-holes, and 011 either side is a cupboard fitted with partitions. The fronts of the doors and the flap are veneered with mahogany ovals with satinwood surrounds, this treatment being reversed in the two doors below. Under the secretaire are three drawers, and two pull-out slides to support the flap when down. The plinth has been cut down and the character of the French foot, originally similar to the previous example, destroyed in consequence.
  2. 294 is a typical Sheraton example, exhibiting, in the ornate pediment and cornice, the influence of the Drawing Book, in some editions of which this design figures in the accompaniment. The cabinet is veneered with East India satinwood, which has been stripped at a later date and stained to the colour of pear-tree. The next example,

THE INTERIOR OF THE RUREAU CABINET, Fig. 291.

THE INTERIOR OF THE RUREAU CABINET, Fig. 291.

SATINWOOD AND MAHOGANY BUREAU BOOKCASE. 8 ft. 9 ins. high x 5 ft. 2 ins. wide x I ft. 2 ins. deep (upper part). Date about 1795.

SATINWOOD AND MAHOGANY BUREAU BOOKCASE. 8 ft. 9 ins. high x 5 ft. 2 ins. wide x I ft. 2 ins. deep (upper part). Date about 1795.

Fig. 295, is a cabinet which was destroyed in the recent fire at the Brussels Exhibition in 1910. I11 this piece extensive use is made of highly figured woods, the doors being veneered with satinwood and the frieze with " lace-wood "—a variety of the planetree. The small cornice is formed by a thin flat top of mahogany moulded with a hollow and fillet. The upper carcase is entirely from mahogany, the inside being painted, probably at a later date. In the lower part, the central tablet is veneered with a satinwood fan in a chestnut surround. The side panels are of satinwood banded with stained sycamore. r The legs arc veneered with mahogany, panelled with thuja above and chestnut below. The top is veneered with chestnut inlaid with sycamore. The sides of the cabinet are panelled with chestnut in light mahogany. The central doors are rebated on the meeting styles, the one on the right almost completely overlapping that on the left—a feature designed to give an appearance of greater lightness to the small doors. The frieze above is inlaid with swags of drapery and flutes, in green holly and chestnut in a sycamore ground. There is evidence of considerable thought and taste having been exhibited in the making of this cabinet, not only in the designing, but also in the judicious choice of the woods which have been employed.

Compared with the period of Hepple-white, that of Sheraton is characterised by marked variations in the quality of the furniture produced, from the high standard of the satinwood library bookcase illustrated in Fig. 288 to the two examples shown in Figs. 296 and 297. The former is quite beyond the usual grade of the school of Sheraton, the two latter equally as much beneath it. It is

Fig 294.

SATINWOOD CHINA CABINET. 7 ft. S ins. high ■ 3 ft. 6 ins. wide. Dale nhoiit 1790-5.

MAHOGANY CABINET. (Inlaid and Veneered with various Woods.)

In the possession ot Alan Mackinnon, Esq. 3 ft. ins. wide x 5 ft. oj in. high. Upper part 2 ft. S ins. high. Depth.—Lower part, I ft. ins. ; .upper part, centre, ui ins.; wings, 7J ins. Width.—Wings, iof ins.; centre, I ft. ins. Date about 1790.

Fig. 2%. MAHOGANY BOOKCASE.

Upper Part. Lower Part.

4 ft. 2 ins. high. 3 ft. 6 ins. high. IoiBB deep. 1 ft. 4 ins. deep.

Date about 1795.

Fig. 2%. MAHOGANY BOOKCASE.

Upper Part. Lower Part.

4 ft. 2 ins. high. 3 ft. 6 ins. high. IoiBB deep. 1 ft. 4 ins. deep.

Date about 1795.

not only the poor cabinet work, but also the shoddi-ness of design and purpose, the sacrifice of everything to cheapness, which is so glaringly apparent, and which, unfortunately, is characteristic of so much of this pre-Empirt furniture of the Sheraton period. Fashions were at their ebb, the glories of Chippendale furniture having departed. The day was not ten years distant when the last member of the famous firm was to disappear in the darkness of the Bankruptcy Court. Hepplewhite had popularised the lighter style which is associated with his name nearly ten years before, the use of woods giving a far greater play of colour and variety than was possible with the work of Chippendale, such as satinwood, sycamore, chestnut, maple, plane-tree, amboyna, and thuja, in conjunction with japanning, lacquerwork, and decoration of medallions and garlands. The aristocratic taste was jaded ; the craving was for a new fashion. Sheraton's style was too little removed from that of Hepplewhite to satisfy the demand, the result being that in the greater number of instances his designs were made up by cabinet-makers of the lower grade. Adam and Hepplewhite had practically exhausted the nobility; there remained for Sheraton only the middle classes. The former fine traditions had not become so debased that the work could be scamped to bring the cost down to the limits demanded bv the new patrons ; it became the province of the designer to give the appearance rather than the reality of the former elaborate furniture of the previous decade. Thus we find such details as the lower part of Fig. 296, provided with two doors, panelled with sham drawer fronts, and the upper doors of the next example, where the flat latticework is fixed to the face of the glass with an adhesive, instead of being built up and " ribbed" behind, as in the older work. At the same time it is instructive to notice how the taste in such details as proportions, sections of mouldings, and the like—in short, just in those particulars where

Fig. 297. MAHOGANY BOOKCASE.

Lower Carcase. Upper Carcase.

Date about 1790-5.

Fig. 297. MAHOGANY BOOKCASE.

Lower Carcase. Upper Carcase.

Date about 1790-5.

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