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Fine Regency Gilded & Gilt Brass Rio Rosewood Canterbury

Fine Regency Gilded & Gilt Brass Rio Rosewood Canterbury

By John McLean & Son


circa 1805

The classic boat shape topped rosewood canterbury with four divisions and solid rosewood slats is of the highest quality in grade of timber and precision cabinet making. The signature gilt brass beading to the top dividers and sides is repeated to the four inset panels below. The full length mahogany drawer with the original gilt brass handles opposed on the back minus a brass escutcheon. The original water gilding to the moulding below is repeated to the tops of the legs. The solid rosewood legs stand on the original brass castors.

The firm of John McLean and Son advertised that it specialised in 'Elegant Parisian Furniture' and although the 6 surviving pieces that bear his trade label are undoubtedly English, they do owe much to Gallic influence not only in their design, but also in their lavish use of metal mounts, (see Redburn, ibid., p.33). Rich, solid, well figured mahogany has been chosen on the side cabinet very much in the Empire style and although McLean seems to have worked primarily in rosewood, Redburn states that he certainly worked in other mediums. He comments that, 'perhaps the most dominant feature of McLean's decoration is his lavish use of metalwork in cast and chased brass, which is gilded and lacquered. The actual cabinet work is of high order, the pieces being meticulously finished, both externally and internally, in the English manner'. The firm supplied furniture for the Earl of Jersey for Middleton Park, Oxford and fine recorded labelled pieces of furniture would indicate that McLean had a considerable business of some importance at a highly competitive time in English cabinet-making. The reputation of firms such as Gillows of Lancaster and Chippendale are well known due the preservation of their detailed drawing and estimate books. However, the Directories of the period contain many entries for cabinet-makers whose importance has been obscured due to the lack of documentation and the dispersal of important collections. Thomas Sheraton's 'Cabinet Dictionary' in 1803 mentions, in reference to a 'Pouch Table', a 'Mr. M'Lean in Mary-le-bone street, near Tottenham court road, who finishes these small articles in the neatest manner'. This acknowledgement is accompanied by McLean's name in the list of Master Cabinet-Makers. The origins of the McLean firm is somewhat confused by the many variations in spelling the name 'McLean'. A 'Jn. McLeae' is listed as a 'Cabinet, Chairmaker and Upholder' in Little Newport Street, Leicester Square from 1770. The rent was valued at £36 and Redburn states that, since the rent payable was considerable and the fact that the premises were new would indicate that McLean was already established in business before 1770. Trade Directories from 1809 give 'John McLean & Son, upholders' as from 58 Upper Marylebone Street with his son William McLean at the same address. The business was in serious decline from 1825 as the Marylebone Rate Books reveal rate arrears and bankruptcy. A final entry in the same year states, 'Died so poor that his body was sent in a box by wagon into the country to relations'. The causes for the decline are not clear, although the notoriously slow payments by clients for completed work caused financial embarrassment to many tradesmen in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Furniture History Volume XIV 1978, pp 31-7


Height 53.00cm (20.87 inches)

Width 49.00cm (19.29 inches)

Depth 32.00cm (12.6 inches)

Stock No: FAF252


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