A Pretty George III Black Japanned & Chinoiserie Decorated Chest of Drawers, Formerly a Chest on Stand c.1750

Origin: English
Period: George III
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1750-70
Height: 36”
Width: 41”
Depth: 22.5” (all at top)

The eighteenth century black japanned thick pine and oak carcass chest having an oversailing top and the typical drawer arrangement of a chest on stand with three short top drawers with three long drawers under, the whole with gilt and polychrome chinoiserie decoration depicting typical oriental figures, pagodas, animals and landscapes with period brass drop ring handles, the sides with further decoration depicting bamboo, swans and fauna, the whole on a plinth base surviving from the third quarter of eighteenth century England.

The condition of the chest is truly country house, i.e. lived in but thoroughly evocative of its story so far. There are several deficiencies to the lacquer to note; with several scratches, scuffs and some minor old losses though overall it remains an attractive piece in its entirety. To the reverse there are two charmingly primitive old repairs to the back panels. There is a very well established patination and craquelure to the lacquer. We love pieces that show their battle scars and remain in un-restored condition, many of these japanned chests were re-decorated in Victorian times, here we see the original Georgian surfaces, No feet have been added to this chest, we have only added rails to the base, concealed, so that she can stand true as this piece once would have stood on a stand. Most of the handles are original or only slightly later, with one escutcheon showing loss. Many chests of this era have later additions, simply down to wear over 250 years, commensurate with use. She is structurally stable and her drawers move freely. She is heavy for a relatively small chest, the mixture of pine and oak being very thick, and expensive at the time.

The fine art of chinoiserie has been in existence since the 17th century, and it depicts Chinese style designs applied to furniture, ceramics and fabrics. Chinoiserie is wonderfully beautiful, and tends to depict realistic and fictitious animals, insects, people, foliage, structures and various other elaborate Asian designs that can be incorporated into a number of decorating themes. Antique pieces embellished with Asian-style chinoiserie and high-quality japanning are coated with baked-on layers that look very much like modern-day high-gloss enamel. Chinoiserie that has been japanned is coated with many layers of resin-based gloss and baked dry. Much polishing goes into the true technique of japanning, and high-quality pieces will appear to have deep layers of gloss with the sheen of fine marble, but true antique pieces like this will show signs of age and wear.

Old-monied imperfection at its best.