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Attributed to William Vile (c. 1700–67)

Commode c.1761-4

Padouk, rosewood, oak, pine, gilt brass | 88.0 x 166.5 x 68.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 39228

King's Bed Chamber, Windsor Castle

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  • This elaborately shaped commode, veneered with lustrous and richly figured golden padouk (and dark rosewood on the interior drawers), inlaid on the top with finely engraved brass and fitted with lavish mounts of chased gilt brass, expresses very clearly the manner in which French rococo design of the 1740s and 1750s was adapted to suit English taste. Furniture pattern-books such as Thomas Chippendale's Director, published in three editions between 1754 and 1762, were extremely influential in promoting this taste: the third edition includes a Commode Table of markedly similar design to this piece.

    The probability is that this commode was made by William Vile in the relatively brief period in the early 1760s when he held the royal warrant and supplied a great deal of expensive new furniture for the young King and Queen at St James's Palace and the Queen's House. Vile's workshop, while not generally considered innovatory in matters of design, evidently mastered this fashion very quickly, especially when supplying Queen Charlotte, whose personal taste seems to have been more adventurous than the King's. Although no clearly recognisable documentation has come to light, Vile's first bill for furnishing Queen Charlotte's apartments at St James's included two pieces of furniture (one for the Bedroom, the other for the Wardrobe) which were evidently of similar design. Each was described as 'a fine Large Comode Chest of Drawers . . . Neat Wrot Brass feet and Ornaments up the Corners finished with Gold Lacquer' and cost £25 (see RCIN 20878)

    The only direct parallel to this piece is a pair of undocumented commodes of very similar form, said to have belonged to George III's Prime Minister, Lord Grenville (1759-1834) - or perhaps more likely to his father George Grenville (1712-70), who was also Prime Minister. These, which are now divided between the Victoria and Albert Museum and Temple Newsam House, Leeds, have the same highly distinctive pierced angle mounts and very similar foot mounts.

    Catalogue entry adapted from George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, London, 2004
    Provenance

    Probably made for Queen Charlotte. It was in the Queen's Audience Chamber since 1868.

  • Medium and techniques

    Padouk, rosewood, oak, pine, gilt brass

    Measurements

    88.0 x 166.5 x 68.5 cm (whole object)