A George III Black Japanned & Chinoiserie Decorated Kneehole Desk c.1790

Origin: English
Period: George III
Provenance: From a West Coast of Scotland Lodge
Date: c.1790
Height: 29”
Width: 34”
Depth: 21.5” (all at top)

The eighteenth century black japanned thick pine carcass kneehole desk of diminutive size, having a rectangular top above a long frieze drawer and arched recess with cupboard door, flanked by banks of three drawers, and raised on bracket feet, decorated throughout with gilt and polychrome Chinoiserie decoration depicting typical oriental figures, pagodas, animals and landscapes with period brass pearl drop ring handles, the sides and recesses with further decoration, surviving from the last quarter of eighteenth century England.

The condition of the desk is un-restored and very much of the 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 old losses, though overall it remains an attractive piece in its entirety. There is a very well established patination and craquelure to the lacquer, with the top with some natural undulation. 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 with only some areas of retouching. The handles are slightly later, with two being of slightly different form. Many chests of this era have later additions, simply down to wear over many years, commensurate with use. She is structurally stable and her drawers move freely. She is heavy for a relatively small desk.

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.

Breathtakingly beautiful.