Each crossbanded in rosewood, the rectangular top above three graduated cedar and mahogany-lined drawers with convex quarter-fillets, above a waved apron and gently splayed feet, each retaining their original handles. One chest with paper label pasted to the top drawer inscribed in an 18th century hand 'Chinese Dressing Room', followed by an inventory of the contents of that room, the other chest with similar paper label pasted to the top drawer inscribed 'Chinese Bed Room', followed by an inventory of the contents of that room.
Attributed to Ince & Mayhew.
Supplied to John, 4th Earl Poulett (1756-1819), Hinton House, Hinton St George, Somerset.
These golden sycamore chests, with elegantly bowed aprons and Grecian-scrolled feet, are conceived in 1780s Roman fashion, as featured in a clothes-press pattern in Messrs. A. Hepplewhite & Co.'s Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, 1788. They are likely to have been commissioned for Hinton House, Hinton St. George, Somerset around the time of its aggrandisement circa 1790 by John 4th Earl Poulett (d. 1819), following his inheritance in 1788. The commodes are pasted with inventory lists of accompanying equipment, which indicate that they furnished the window piers of the bedroom and dressing-room of an apartment hung with Chinese flowered paper (C. Winn, The Pouletts of Hinton St. George, p. 149). Commodes intended for bedroom apartments such as this pair, were often supplied in a series, with one placed in each of the apartment's rooms. The paper inventory pasted to the top drawer of each commode would appear to confirm this: one commode placed in the Dressing Room and one placed in the Bedroom.
This pair of commodes is identical to another pair from the furniture believed to have been supplied by Ince and Mayhew between 1787 and 1792 for Daylesford, Warren Hastings’ house in Worcestershire.
The Hastings accounts, which despite recording the day to day expenditure on the building and furnishing of Daylesford, do not include any of the bills for the furniture. It has been assumed that they must have been collected together at some point and subsequently lost; which does have precedents. However, there is a receipt dated 1790 for £236.19.7 from his architect for plate glass supplied by Ince & Mayhew.
Despite the lack of bills, Hasting’s bank records are extremely useful and detailed, and include five entries between 11th July 1787 and 1st January 1789 referring to payments of £1,686 to Mr Mayhew, with a further payment in June 1792 to Mayhew & Co, making £2,176 in total.
Equally significant is the fact that no other cabinet makers are recorded in the accounts and without the furniture there would be no other way of accounting for the payments to Mayhew.
The pair of commodes at Daylesford and this pair are identical. The measurements are within a half inch of each other and they both have the added expense of including cedar drawer linings.
There has been a Hinton House on the same site since 1490 but very little of the original building remains. With the family's newly elevated status in 1627, the 1st Baron Poulett (d. 1649) improved and enlarged the house accordingly. A new south wing, built following the design principles of Inigo Jones, was completed by 1636. Just a few years later in 1650 the estate ledgers show extensive building work was carried out, resulting in two further wings. In the early 18th Century, John, 1st Earl Poulett (1663-1743) remodeled the Long Gallery. However, it was in 1789 that the most drastic alterations of Hinton occurred, under John, 4th Earl Poulett (1756-1819). However, just a year after completion, in 1794, the Earl, still not satisfied, engaged Sir John Soane to remodel the interior. In spite of making plans and several visits to the house, the Earl decided at the last moment that he preferred the newly fashionable Gothic style and employed the architect James Wyatt (1746-1813) instead to proceed with the modifications. It was under Wyatt's direction that the paneled Grand Saloon, vaulted Gothic Gallery, and the two towers that flank the west of the house were added.
CONDITION REPORT ON REQUEST.