George II mahogany bureau cabinet bookcase

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George II mahogany bureau cabinet bookcase


English mahogany bureau, cabinet, bookcase/ secretary with secret compartments.
George II period, ca 1750.

Height: 8’4″
Width: 4′
Depth: 24″

Stock: BHA928


An impressive English mahogany bureau, cabinet, bookcase/ secretary* with secret compartments. In the manner of Giles Grendey (1693-1780).
Displaying fine rich colour and surface. Mid 18th century, George II period.

The top section with a broken arch pediment and dentil cornice. The frieze well carved with Gothic arcaded blind fretwork. Centred by a later urn-shaped finial.

The cabinet with two carved parcel-gilt gesso bordered ogee shaped doors. Old but later mirror plates enclosing a fitted interior with eight drawers and adjustable shelves.

The cleated fall, with its original lock, now fitted with a wine red, gilt-tooled writing surface revealing an exceptionally high quality arrangement of canopied drawers and pigeon holes. The interior is centred by an arched architectural overdoor which pulls out as a secret drawer. The floor within the central door also slides forward revealing a secret recess.

Below is an arrangement of three long and three short cockbeaded drawers. The outer short drawers, unusually fitted with sliding writing surfaces with matching wine red gilt-tooled leather, serve as supports to the hinged fall. All set with original swan-neck brass mounts and key escutcheons. In high quality mahogany and oak-lined throughout.
Raised on its apparently original ogee bracket feet.

This sophisticated and classic architectural bureau cabinet/ bookcase is reminiscent of some of William Kent’s earlier designs (1685-1748).

Sothebys offered an almost identical bureau cabinet in the Devenish Collection sale, 24th April 2008, lot 26 est. $20,000-30,000.

The ‘Cabinet-Maker and Chair-Maker’ Giles Grendey was described in 1740 as ‘A great Dealer in the Cabinet Way’. He carried out a considerable export trade from Aylesbury House in St. John’s Square, London. He was appointed Upper Warden of the Joiner’s Company in 1747, and its Master in 1766. His son-in-law, John Cobb, was granted a court appointment as cabinet-maker to King George III.

Records of Grendey’s export business have never been doubted. A fire that badly damaged his workshop in 1731 also destroyed furniture to the value of £1,000, that he ‘had pack’d for Exportation against the next Morning’. It is a tantalising possibility that the destroyed export furniture was intended for Spain, and that the existing Lazcano suite is in fact its replacement.

See a drawing of a chimney piece surround in the Victoria & Albert Museum showing similarities in the treatment of a pediment.
(Gallery location: Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case A, shelf 156, Museum no. 208.)

Vis S. Stuart, ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840’, 2008, (2 vols), vol. II, p. 61, pl. 607.
Percy Macquoid ‘History of English Furniture’, vol. III ‘The Age of Mahogany’, pl.7.

*Nb. An antique bureau cabinet is often referred to as a ‘secretary’ in the US.


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