Picture This LXXIX

Here’s another one for the sleuths. What’s going on with this?

QA_COD_01aFig. 1. “Queen Anne, circa 1725”.

More details and clues will follow after some discussion.

Jack Plane

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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52 Responses to Picture This LXXIX

  1. Joe M says:

    added bracket feet…..later style?

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  2. potomacker says:

    The quality of the Boule marqueterie seems out of synch with the downright plainness of the carcass. Oh, on much closer inspection, I can see the same pattern on the top.
    The only other detail that jumps out is the uneven wear pattern. The three dividers appear much paler than the bottom plinth. Its molded edge is also crisper than I would have expected given the smooth surfaces on the other three.
    The bracket feet are original? And yet they look pristine, at least, by eye from this angle. Would I get a better understanding if I could see how the top is attached to the sides. It appears that there is no divider to section of the top drawers and that the lockets engage the top. Are these side hung drawers, by chance?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      This is not Boulle. Marquetry panels like these were the height of fashion circa 1690. The mouldings are indeed incongruous. I don’t believe the top-to-side joinery would reveal much – even if it were visible.

      The drawers are not side-hung.

      Does the thickness of the drawer dividers look normal?

      JP

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      • potomacker says:

        I admit my eyes are getting weak with the years. If this is not Boulle, are the patterns paints on the lighter veneer backgrounds? The details in your link make me think of mehndi. What makes this style of marquetry no Boulle? The outlines are copied as though down in packets.
        Again, I think the main incongruity is with the plinth. The bottom drawer is resting directly on the molding.

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        • Jack Plane says:

          There is no painting on this chest.

          Boulle is a variety of marquetry comprising tortoiseshell and (predominantly) brass or pewter.

          Most furniture of ‘this’ date has the base moulding directly below the bottom drawer.

          JP

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  3. It looks to me like the pulls and lock plates don’t match. I don’t know much about this style but they look to be oriental.

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  4. k says:

    Has it been painted?.

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  5. Jack Plane says:

    The type of marquetry associated with these chests is called arabesque or seaweed marquetry. Compare the chest above with this original example.

    Here’s another clue

    The dealer who is selling the chest describes it as “Queen Anne, circa 1725”. Both the monarch and date are incorrect. Why?

    JP

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  6. ianfraser23 says:

    now you make it too easy…so Queen Anne reigned from 1702-1707, thus ‘circa 1725’ is incorrect. I would assume it is made prior to the reign of the mentioned monarch, possibly just after the Glorious Revolution – (although I thought those bracket feet were in style a little bit later — puzzled I remain). I suppose the orientation of the drawer bottom is another clue, that it was made before Queen Anne’s reign..?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      With eyes half-closed, the carcase is passable as William and Mary, circa 1690, but yet the bracket feet are original. The carcase sides and dustboards are too thin and the D-mouldings aren’t crossgrained.

      Yes, the drawer bottom boards are a major clue.

      JP

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  7. Will Johnstone says:

    Queen Anne was already dead? The bottom grain orientation is not “English”? And, the ornamentation is too elaborate for Queen Anne style?

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  8. carter choate says:

    proof above
    when it comes to ferni-chur
    some folks know
    they know
    whut they know

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  9. Joe M says:

    Ok, here is what I am seeing..The drawers show wear, slight rounding at the corners at the corners but ..the D-mouldings do not show any related wear…crisp as another poster has pointed out…But there is wear on the second from bottom D-moulding at corners from the drawer sides..but is narrow??? no added drawers runners to bottom of drawer? The feet being original to the case do not show the wear as expected for the “time period”…also very “clean” surface….(the help was very careful with the vacuum).
    The finish on the D-mouldings remind me of many clocks that I have repaired….after their veneers have been stripped off and refinished.
    The lock holes and escutcheons seem to be to too close to the drawer edge as compared to the perfect example linked to the above post. and no grime around them as on the pulls.
    Also no marks anywhere from closing of the drawer with the lock blade “up”. again very well cared for????
    In response to “what makes you say 1740-1760?” The overall look of the style seems to late for any Queen Anne with the narrow sides and drawer dividers with bracket feet just seems later. I would say ….George II 1730-1760. (The dealer could be using the North American description of Queen Anne 1725-1750)
    Then along came this bit…The photo of the drawer questioning the monarch and date….. The grain direction of the drawer bottom, (No oak in sides or bottom?)…later than George II???? Maybe George III 1760 -1820? with 20th century added locks and escutcheons?. But………How about a victorian piece..all parts old, drawers, some old top/bottom D-mouldings, newer case/feet all “original to the piece” but combined, made to look from a much earlier period?
    That’s it…I’m done….I’m going back to work. I’m probably 100% in the wrong…even my wife says I’m getting carried way…again.
    Thanks for this Jack!

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Lack of wear is an issue. I have no idea about drawer runners and they are largely irrelevant as there’s enough information in the frontal view of this chest alone to pigeon-hole it.

      Outwardly, it appears to be too early for Queen Anne, but as you say, with bracket feet it is obviously post Anne.

      Yes, the dealer is North American.

      Oak and/or pine drawer linings would be acceptable, so there’s nothing to be gained there. The grain direction of the drawer bottom boards places them post 1755.

      The chest isn’t made up from old parts; it’s all contemporary.

      JP

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  10. I am reminded of the pieces in Herbert Cescinsky’s great book, “The Gentle Art of Faking Furniture.” My impulse is the marquetry is new.

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  11. Vincent says:

    Is it Dutch? William ans Mary. I would not have expected the bracket feet in that case.

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  12. Jack Plane says:

    These should give it away.

    JP

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    • Alex A. says:

      Well you have stumped me (i.e. gone beyond my limited knowledge). I noticed your above comment that that pine drawer parts were fine for English so I was off base on that.

      The feet look like George II and the overhanging top would go towards the later end of that.

      The overhanging top is molding since the top is structurally integral and there is no rail separating the drawer from the top so if its English I’m thinking its late 1700’s.

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  13. Joe M says:

    Now my wife is involved and came up with: Could these designs be Stenciled or decals? Something not right…no breaks or grain pattern…at least not showing my computer monitor….and the side view is too perfect for such a large area of marquetry not to have some type of aging/breaks etc.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      There’s no paint or decals.

      Wouldn’t that have been a massive tree to produce such wide veneer? What about the borders of the side panel?

      JP

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      • Warwick says:

        no sign of quartering or book matching veneer, all parts of the background veneer including the borders seem to be contiguous. Peeled veneer? If so it would have to be mid Victorian or later. Can the veneer thickness be determined?

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        • Jack Plane says:

          Broad veneered panels such as carcase aides and tops were covered with assembled veneers. Peeled veneer it is!

          What are your collective opinions now?

          JP

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          • Warwick says:

            Likely 100% genuine repro then. I still think there seems to be some age to the piece, due to things like the cracking of the drawer bottom and cupping of the front of the top. Victorian? Maybe Edwardian? They were fairly prolific reproducers of earlier styles. Maybe from a relatively skilled furniture maker of more recent eras that can simulate aging very well.

            Possibly a re-veneered older (Georgian) chest?

            Cheers, Warwick

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          • Jack Plane says:

            Wood can crack in a single hot afternoon.

            JP

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  14. Warwick says:

    Hello

    I noted that the D mouldings are long grain but the top and bottom mouldings appear to be cross grained, and perhaps more congruous with the drawer fronts.

    Much of the chest, but particularly the feet seem to show remarkably little wear or degradation for a W&M or QA piece, but the chest still seems to show patina consistent with genuine age.

    I’m no expert, but it looks to me that if you ignore the marquetry, mouldings and hardware, the general style and construction look typical of the mid to later Georgian periods. The drawer bottom grain orientation in particular points us towards mid Georgian or later. I assume from earlier comments the date of the chest must be after 1750

    As a point of interest, when did side-to side oriented draw bottoms first come into use? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t they still exclusively use front-to-back grained drawer bottoms in the George I period?

    Perhaps this chest is Georgian using design elements of an earlier style, or more likely (if we have cross-grained top and bottom mouldings) an item re-made in the mid to late Georgian eras using elements of show-wood from an earlier chest?

    Incidentally I like how well the design of the marquetry metamorphoses and the ‘flower’ elements in particular change in size and shape to accommodate the graduated height of the drawers.

    Regards
    Warwick

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  15. Jack Plane says:

    I winced upon first seeing the image in figure 1. The intent is a William and Mary arabesque or ‘seaweed’ marquetry chest of drawers however, it has bracket feet (a genuine chest would have bun feet) and the marquetry, while well-executed (machine made) is ornate but nothing like period arabesque marquetry.

    The drawer dividers are far too thick (they should be 1/2″ thick) and the D-moulding is straight-grained and not cross-grained (though, strangely, the other mouldings are cross-grained).

    The D-moulding and feet have that typical factory-applied (sprayed?) haziness about them: The polish is very ‘thin’ and where the wood has been coloured, the stain is solely in the polish and not in the wood with the result that where the finish is damaged, pale new wood peeks through. Zooming in on the image reveals a complete absence of accumulated blemishes or subsequent antiquing. The cracks in the top moulding are even devoid of any grime or wax.

    The cast drops are pre-William and Mary (circa 1680) in style while the escutcheons are horrendous modern stamped items. Seventeenth-century locks were taller than eighteenth-century or later locks, so one would expect to see the keyholes/escutcheons somewhat lower on the drawer fronts.

    Had they been genuine William and Mary (or Queen Anne for that matter), the drawers would have had back-to-front bottom boards.

    The view of the carcase side reveals a vast expanse of burr walnut which was inconceivable prior to the invention of modern veneer peeling machinery. Period carcase sides and tops were veneered in sections and bordered with similar or complimentary veneers, often with additional crossbanding, featherbanding and/or box lines etc. At any rate, with chests of this stature, exotic and expensive veneers were reserved for drawer fronts and carcase tops, not carcase sides.

    Finally – as if any other evidence is necessary – is the image of the back of the chest.

    I won’t expose the (North American) dealer, but they are attempting to pass off (for US$9,600) what is clearly a modern… I can’t call it a ‘reproduction’ as it’s not a reproduction of anything… piece of decorator furniture as Queen Anne… or circa 1725 (which ever one chooses). Even allowing for their nescience of when seaweed furniture peaked and their total ignorance of monarchs reigns, it’s inexcusable.

    Earlier Alex A sent me a link to an almost identical “customizable” factory-made chest of drawers with the same mass-produced marquetry panels.

    I temporarily withheld Alex’s link and also a second post from Patrick Edwards who identified the chest as a fake.

    JP

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  16. Vincent says:

    Is that plywood at the base on the picture of the back? If so we are not talking ignorance on the part of the dealer but outright fraud.

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  17. Ian says:

    thank you for this intriguing lesson!

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  18. Educational post. As I have nearly 50 years experience in restoring and conserving period furniture I immediately suspected this was a fake. I guess when you handle as many pieces as we have, it becomes “instinctive” to recognize original from imitation. That said, it is essential to examine everything in great detail to support your analysis. Thank you for keeping my post back so that others could postulate about what they see.

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  19. Adam Palmer says:

    What is interesting to me is that, for some reason, I seem to try to avoid calling it a modern fake. I kept looking for another reason. I think that urge to not call someone an outright liar is how people manage to sell so many fakes. Part of me just doesn’t want to be that confrontational. Does that make sense? I’m much more comfortable with people changing brasses or feet later on, because it’s not quite so blatant a deception.

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  20. podmanic says:

    Drawer linings look like Tulip from here. Also, I would think it unlikely to be a recent “fake” (and not just because it isn’t faking anything I know of) since $9G is hardly a profit making price. 2nd quarter 20th century pastiche?

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