Crossbanded and with ebony and boxwood stringing overall, the serpentine twin-flap top inlaid with medallions of crossed shepherdesses' crooks and a bonnet, enclosing two compartments, one with pierced circular well flanked by four further wells, the simulated frieze drawer inlaid with a central oval patera issuing trailing laurel swags terminated to each end by floral roundels issuing laurel trails, above two short drawers with foliate roundels and chain links, on square tapering legs joined by a three-quarter galleried concave undertier, on ogee brass feet and castors, inscribed in pencil to underside 'Cardiff Castle/ July 1869/ J. Jenkins repaired/ this old washstand/ J. Wooton polished it/ busy times here/ just now'
3234 in. (83 cm.) high; 2934 in. (75.5 cm.) wide; 1914 in.(49 cm.) deep
Almost certainly supplied to John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792) either for Luton Park, Bedfordshire or for 75 South Audley Street, and by descent within the Bute Collection.
Works of Art from the Bute Collection; Christie's, London, 8 July 1996, lot 20.
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Lot Essay

When sold from the Bute Collection in 1996, this dressing-table was attributed to Thomas Chippendale. However, recent scholarship by Sir Hugh Roberts and Charles Cator on the Golden Square partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew has led to its reattribution to the firm, along with a number of other works formerly in the Bute Collection at Mount Stuart. It is possible that these works came originally either from Luton Park, Bedfordshire, which had been initiated for Lord Bute, who was Prime Minister from 1762-63, in 1767 to the designs of Robert Adam or from 75 South Audley Street, which Bute enlarged in the 1770s.

The other pieces formerly at Mount Stuart which have recently been reattributed to Ince and Mayhew consist of a pair of commodes and the present lot, possibly originally one of a pair, with distinctive husk swags and marquetry resonant of the firm’s oeuvre. The possible companion dressing-table, reputedly commissioned by George, Prince of Wales, later George IV as a gift for the Comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's brother, was formerly in the collection of Colonel H.H. Mulliner and was discussed by him in The Decorative Arts in England, 1660-1780, London, fig. 25. The Mulliner table was sold Christie’s, London, 10 July 1924, lot 60, although the provenance, also previously ascribed the present companion dressing-table, is now not considered to be accurate.

Although no payments to any cabinet-makers for work at Luton or South Audley Street are noted in Lord Bute’s banking records, it is conceivable that payments were made via the Adam Brothers, to whom Bute made payments of £12,150 between 1769 and 1774 or via Brown and Holland, to whom payments of at least £3,600 were made between 1775 and 1777 (F. Russell, John, 3rd Earl of Bute, Patron and Collector, London, 2004, pp. 164 and 174).

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