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Commode

Thomas Chippendale (British, 1718–1779)

c. 1778

Medium mahogany with satinwood and fruitwood veneers Measurements H: 33 x W: 51 1/2 x D: 23 in. (83.82 x 130.81 x 58.42 cm) Credit Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund and John Berdan Memorial Fund Accession Number 93.32 Location Gallery 19, Bruce Galleries

Narrative

Sophisticated Neoclassical urns, festoons, bellflowers, and paterae adorn the radiant satinwood face of this commode. The commode’s clean profile and semicircular shape was an innovative departure from the exuberant asymmetry of the Rococo. Exceptionally fine marquetry imparts painterly realism to the ribbons and leaves; the fluted and beaded urns are plucked directly from designs for silver vessels. These details are presented on a ground of satinwood, a species favored for its rippling blond grain. Sir James Ibbetson commissioned this commode for his Yorkshire home, Denton Hall, completed in 1778. Ibbetson’s accounts reveal that he purchased furniture from several notable cabinetmakers, including Thomas Chippendale. Following the great success of his 1754 design book, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, Chippendale was closely associated with the Rococo style; yet, as patrons’ tastes shifted in the 1770s, Chippendale immersed himself in the new Neoclassical style.