Picture This LIVI

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.

walnut_chest_c1700_01aFig. 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 tier chests of a great many chest-on-chests (figs. 2, 3, 4, 5 & 7).

Geo_I_walnut_COC_c1720_02a_ChristiesFig. 2. George I walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1720. (Christies)

Geo_I_walnut_COC_c1720_03a_ReindeerFig. 3. George I walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1720. (Reindeer Antiques)

Geo_II_mahogany_COC_c1750_04a_ChristiesFig. 4. George II mahogany chest-on-chest, circa 1750. (Christies)

Geo_III_elm_COC_c1760_01a_BonhamsFig. 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).

walnut_chest_c1700_01bFig. 6. Base moulding and bracket feet. (Northgate Gallery)

Geo_II_walnut_COC_c1735_01a_BonhamsFig. 7. George II walnut chest-on-chest, circa 1735. (Bonhams)

Geo_II_walnut_COC_c1740_01a_BonhamsFig. 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.

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Antiques, Picture This and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Picture This LIVI

  1. diceloader says:

    So I guess this may not be Queen Anne.


  2. Ken says:

    Thank you for another informative article. My wife and I have just become addicted to collecting antique furniture and you have been very helpful in educating us!!


  3. W Baldwin says:

    I am curious as to which visible features of this chest cause it to be attributed to George I, rather than William and Mary or Queen Anne, or do we need to see more of the construction to age it more accurately? To my layperson’s eye a number of features seem to fit with quite an early date, especially if we factor in possible replacement feet. Features such as the reeded mouldings on the carcase front (cf drawer cock-beading), the hardware, and the style of the top moulding.


    • Jack Plane says:

      The brasses can’t be relied upon as a dating tool: The scars on the drawer fronts do not match the present handles and the escutcheons are of a style popular in the latter half of the eighteenth-century.

      From the double-bead carcase moulding and featherbanded drawers one can deduce the chest cannot have been constructed prior to 1700.

      However, I also had the advantage of an additional image of the construction of one of the drawers which clearly dates the chest to just before 1720 at the earliest.

      This particular format of top moulding was infrequently used after 1720.

      Even if I didn’t have the luxury of another image, the finish and overall appearance of the chest was sufficient to attribute a fairly accurate date.



      • Warwick says:

        Thanks; very interesting. Though now I am intrigued as to the drawer construction detail that dates it to pre-1720? Pray tell…

        I’m still trying to get my ‘eye in’ with the chests made around these periods. Virtually all English furniture we see in New Zealand is George II or later

        cheers, WB


  4. Ken says:

    I was hoping you could give me some insight on a piece that is up for sale. http://www.estatesales.net/MI/Lansing/48917/918804 pics 9-14 on the second grouping. It is listed as a Chippendale, but the feet appear to be George lll.

    Thanks for your insight.


  5. Ken says:

    Thanks Jack!!


  6. whintor says:

    Another fascinating insight – thank you.
    Concerning Roman numerals, isn’t LIV followed by LV. I will stand corrected of course!!


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