We are delighted to open our summer exhibition, The Age of Walnut, by highlighting a masterpiece in the exhibition that features on the cover of our catalogue – a rare and highly important Queen Anne scarlet japanned bachelors chest.
The chest is decorated overall with chinoiserie designs on a scarlet red ground, and the rectangular hinged top features a silk velvet-lined interior and concealed compartments. The chest has an arched apron and three central drawers, flanked by doors each enclosing five further japanned drawers. The folding top is supported by hinged gate legs, and the sides are similarly decorated and with bold brass carrying handles. The japanning is of outstanding quality throughout with designs in the manner of Stalker & Parker.
This exceptional bachelors chest is extraordinarily rare. One other example with red japanned decoration was part of the magnificent collection of the Marquess of Cholmondeley from Houghton Hall, Norfolk (sold Christie’s, 8 December 1994, lot 144) and had previously been in the collection of Sir Philip Sassoon, Bt., Trent Park, Hertfordshire. Documented in a photograph of the Blue Room (South Drawing Room) at Trent Park in 1939, this cabinet was subsequently sold by Mallett & Son (Antiques) Ltd. Of New Bond Street. More recently it was offered by Apter Fredericks Ltd. and illustrated in their catalogue Important English Furniture – II.
A similar walnut bachelors chest and writing table from the collection of Irwin Untermyer is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Y. Hackenbroch, English Furniture in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, London, 1958, pl. 278, fig. 320).