An Exceptional George I Period Scarlet Japanned Double Domed Bureau Cabinet
Attributed to John Belchier
English, circa 1720
Price available upon request
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The cabinet lavishly decorated overall in scarlet and gilt with scenes of figures, foliage and birds mounted on the cornice with carved silver gilt finials; the two arched mirrored doors opening to reveal a finely fitted interior with a series of pigeonholes; folio sides and arched doors flanked by columns over small drawers; the bureau with a fall opening to reveal a similar arrangement of columns, drawers and pigeonholes and a sliding well; the exterior fitted with two short and long drawers and raised upon bun feet.
Height: 94 ½ in (240 cm)
Width: 41 1/3 in (105 cm)
Depth: 23 ¾ in (58 cm)
Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740
This magnificent cabinet is similar to the scarlet japanned bureau cabinet supplied for john Meller at Erddig in Northern Wales, now owned by the National Trust. The Erddid example is believed to have been supplied by John Belchier in 1720. John Belchier traded at the sign of ‘The Sun’ on the South side of St Paul’s churchyard, London. This address was first recorded in 1712 and from 1720 he is recorded supplying furniture to Erddig.
From the estate of Margot Irene Duke, Marchioness of Reading
Margot Irene Duke, Marchioness of Reading (1919 – 2015) was a British aristocrat and campaigner. An eccentric and spirited woman, she defied the usual traditions of aristocracy and was outspoken and controversial on many social, cultural and political issues, which she often expressed in trenchant letters to the Spectator. A noted beauty of the 1930s and 1940s, she sat for a number of leading photographers and featured as the cover of Pond’s face cream. She was also a pioneering pilot and racing driver, and was one of the first British women to gain a driving licence before the war.
Born on 11th January 1919, Margot was one of three daughters of Percival Augustus Duke and Violet Mappin, of the jeweller and silversmith dynasty, Mappin and Webb. Her father, Percival was noted as the last man to wear a winged collar on the floor of the Stock Exchange. Margot was also a descendant, through her father’s side of the Duke Biddle Trent Semans family based in New York. Benjamin N. Duke and his brother James were chairmen of the American Tobacco Company; had factories in both the textile and energy industries and made major contributions to the economic growth of the North Carolina economy, where their power facilities had expanded in the early 20th Century. Furthermore, researching her family in later life, Margot was able to trace her linage back to William the Conqueror. In 1940 she married Michael Viscount Erleigh, MS, the eldest son of the 2nd Marquis of Reading who would succeed his father in 1960.
The Marchioness loved speed, in the air and on land. As well as becoming one of the first British women to get a pilot’s licence before the war, she also competed in the 1952 Round Britain car rally as co-driver with Sheila Van Damm. Her neighbour and great friend Donald Campbell, the British speed record breaker who broke eight world records on water and on land in the 1950’s and 1960’s, used to encourage her to race and to go fast. Margot was adventurous and according to her daughter, Lady Jacky Isaacs, ‘a bit of a daredevil.’
She took an outspoken position on a number of social issues. During the World Cup in 1998, she wrote to the Spectator in support of English football hooligans and their behaviour in France. The Marchioness wrote, “We are a nation of yobs…I don’t agree with broken glass and knives…but to fight with his fists is a good clean fight.” She felt they had spirit, and she admired anyone with spirit. In the 1960’s she briefly entertained hopes of standing for the Conservatives in the general election, until her husband dissuaded her, fearing what she might say.
Margot was a keen animal rights activist and animal lover. She had many dogs throughout her life and enjoyed calling them eccentric and unusual names, including Pardon, Help, and even Toilet amongst others. Harold Brooks Baker, the former director of Brooks Peerage expressed that she had views, ‘diametrically opposed to most sane people.’ On the BBC 4 Radio Show, Last Word, Margot’s daughter Lady Jackie expressed that her mother would have been rather pleased with that description.