The Harrington Commode, a chest of drawers thought to be crafted by Thomas Chippendale, is currently the most expensive piece of English furniture.
Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) is regarded as one of the greatest furniture-makers of all time. A London based craftsman and designer, he came from a family well-versed in woodworking and created works in mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical styles.
The Harrington Commode is an important George III gilt-lacquered brass mounted fustic, rosewood, tulipwood and marquetry commode circa 1770, almost certainly by Chippendale. The commode is 89cm high, 140cm wide, 65cm deep.
It presents a serpentine shaped tulipwood-banded top with a central yellowwood and an engraved medallion surrounded by anthemia and a guilloche border with floral sprays and bell-flower inlay.
The piece is regarded as a classic example of Thomas Chippendale's genius as a designer and his ability to both define, and conform with, the current tastes.
Its serpentine form slightly predates many of Chippendale's most celebrated neoclassical pieces including the rectilinear furniture at Harewood and the renowned commode supplied for Melbourne House, London (now at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire) in the early 1770s.
However, there are undoubtedly similarities in the design and treatment of the marquetry to his Harewood commission
On 7th December 2010, the commode was sold for £3,793,250, at Sotheby’s, London, nearly four times more than the estimate of £600,000-1,000,000.
The price realised made it the most expensive piece of English furniture sold at auction, and exceeded the previous world record by more than £1 million.
Henry House, the head of English furniture at Sotheby's and the auctioneer for the sale, commented:
“This remarkable commode was keenly contested by five bidders, the final price demonstrating true demand in the market for items of real quality, and I feel is justly deserved for an item that has been an honour to sell.’