In Chest Invection I described how elevated chests occasionally found their own feet, and then yesterday I came across this beautifully patinated English walnut chest of drawers (fig. 1), advertised by a North American dealer and described as “George I… circa 1780-1800” – oh Lordy.
Fig. 1. George I walnut chest, circa 1715-20. (Northgate Gallery)
Whilst anomalies have a habit of cropping up (and this chest may, in fact, be totally original), I was suspicious of it the moment I clapped eyes on it. The first pointer that shouts “top chest” is the arrangement of three top drawers which is typical of the upper chests of a great many chest-on-chests (figs. 2, 3, 4, 5 & 7).
Fig. 2. George I walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1720. (Christies)
Fig. 3. George I walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1720. (Reindeer Antiques)
Fig. 4. George II mahogany chest-on-chest, circa 1750. (Christies)
Fig. 5. George III elm chest-on-chest, circa 1760. (Bonhams)
I have another concern: The chest’s atypical base moulding (fig. 6) is more consistent (at this date) with the waist moulding of a chest-on-chest (figs. 3, 5, 7 & 8).
Fig. 6. Base moulding and bracket feet. (Northgate Gallery)
Fig. 7. George II walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1735. (Bonhams)
Fig. 8. George II walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1740. (Bonhams)
As evidenced by the wear to the base moulding (caused by the drawer runner), the conversion (if that indeed, is what it is) appears to have been carried out some time ago – one would like to believe it was to increase the chests’ utility rather than for commercial gain.