A rare Charles II period chest


This wonderful early oak chest / cabinet is a rare survivor from the Charles II period.

We are able to date this accurately from an almost identical chest dated 1662 (Stourhead, Wiltshire.)

W 4’1’’ (123 cm) max
D 2’3’’ (68 cm)
H 4’6’’ (136 cm).

BHA 1134


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This exceptional 17th-century chest / cabinet has one long working drawer, and one deep drawer, with cupboards retaining internal shelving below. All faced with elaborate, mitred, geometric mouldings, applied split balusters, carved corbels, roundels and engraved mother-of-pearl and bone panels. Some panels apparently in ebony. Dentil cornice to the frieze.
Bun feet replaced following the original design. Great colour, old surfaces and overall condition is excellent. It conveniently divides into two sections.
Circa 1660.

Provenance: Lisgoole Abbey, N. Ireland.

R.W. Symonds, The Present State of Old English Furniture, Duckworth, London (1921) fig. 7, dated 1673. Vis a very similar 17th c chest.

Percy Macquoid RI, A History Of English Furniture – The Age Of Oak, Lawrence & Bullen, London (1904-08) p. 76, figs. 140 & 141, for two similar chests of ”well considered proportions and details’’.
Figs. 203 – 210 exhibit further similarities in design, and MacQuoid states that “the fashion for these chests must have been great, as many varieties of them… followed rapidly upon one another in date” [sic] pp. 97-99.

Vis p. 77, fig. 141 (Oak chest with drawers). The top opens in a long drawer, below is a very deep drawer,
panelled in strong projection , the bevels of which are of so-called zebra or snake-wood. The lower portion of the chest, opening in two doors over the usual arrangement of drawers. [sic].
Nb. The chest illustrated in Macquoid is of oak, but in 1680 it was probably to match some other furniture, painted black and lacquered in what was then termed ‘The Indian Taste’, so very fashionable for a time. The bone and pearl inlay is very cleverly imitated in the lacquer-work.

Ralph Edwards CBE FSA, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, Hamlyn, London (Fourth Impression 1972) “The next stage in the evolution (of the chest) was delayed until c. 1650, when a hybrid form, half cabinet and half chest of drawers came into use among the prosperous classes” pp. 198-199, figs. 1, 2, 3 & 4.

References and further reading:

Stourhead | National Trust