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Fine Art Sale Lot 917


A GEORGE III AMBOYNA, MAHOGANY AND SPECIMEN VENEERED 'COTTONIAN' BOOKCASE, ATTRIBUTED TO ROBERT TUSON, C1780 of breakfront form with dentil cornice and round-arched glazing bars, fitted with shelves of deal faced with mahogany, the lower doors principally veneered in zebrawood between ebony bands and on the inside with exotic specimen veneers, the sides in zebrawood, 152cm h; 40 x 144cmProvenance: One of the group of similar amboyna bookcases commissioned by Charles Rogers, FRS, FSA (1711-1784) firstly from the London cabinet maker Thomas Wood, c1757 and subsequently from Robert Tuson for his house in Laurence Pountney Lane, London; inherited together with Roger's collection by his brother-in-law William Cotton I (1713-1791); his son, William Cotton II (1759-1816) and removed to Balham Hill House; his son William Cotton III, MA, FSA (1794-1863) and removed in 1823 to The Priory, Leatherhead, Surrey by whom given with the Rogers Collection to Plymouth Proprietary Library in 1853; transferred to Plymouth City Museum & Arts Gallery on permanent loan in 1915.A note on provenance: the present bookcase is understood to have been acquired by the vendors' father from the trade in about 1960. It is not known when it left the Cottonian Collection, the provenance of which is as above:The present bookcase is almost certainly one of those made for the 18th century antiquarian and collector Charles Rogers. A particularly learned connoisseur and collector on the grand scale, his scholarly interests ranged from books and fine art to the natural sciences. He is known to have collected rare and exotic woods, on account of both their aesthetic and scientific value. The cabinets to house his collection,with their restrained design, but extensive use of particularly rich veneers, especially amboyna but also zebrawood, amarillo and even manicheel were, most unusually for the period, central to the Collection itself, rather than, merely to housing the prints, old master drawings, folios, books and manuscripts.According to Rogers' accounts he first ordered an 'Amboina' bookcase from the London cabinetmaker Thomas Wood in 1741. In 1780 he ordered another, hitherto thought to be one of the two surviving examples, from another London cabinet maker, Robert Tuson. Highly prized in the Regency period, 18th century English amboyna furniture is extremely rare. Obtained from the island of Ambon (in Indonesia) it was rare and valuable.For a full account of Rogers' furniture by Dr Adam Bowett, see Historic Furniture in the Cottonian Collection: A Concise Catalogue was published by Plymouth City Museum Art Gallery in 2014. Mellors & Kirk acknowledges the kind assistance of Dr Adam Bowett in the cataloguing of this lot.

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