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  • Place of origin:

    Dublin (made)

  • Date:

    1775 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Moore, William (cabinet-maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Harewood veneer, with marquetry of various woods

  • Museum number:

    W.56:1 to 3-1925

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In the 18th century a commode was a type of low cabinet or chest of drawers, used in grand dressing rooms and drawing rooms. It was often intended more for display than for any practical function. Commodes usually had a curved (often serpentine) shape and were often ornamented with marquetry or painted decoration. The semicircular type seen here was made fashionable in Britain in the 1770s and 1780s by the neoclassical architect Robert Adam, who often used such geometric shapes in his designs.

The history of this example is unknown, but it was almost certainly made in Dublin by William Moore, who supplied a very similar commode to the Duke of Portland in 1782. William Moore trained in London with the prominent cabinet-making firm of Mayhew & Ince, and his marquetry is very similar to that on pieces from their workshop (such as the Duchess of Manchester's cabinet also in the V&A's collection, W.43-1949).

Place of Origin

Dublin (made)


1775 (made)


Moore, William (cabinet-maker)

Materials and Techniques

Harewood veneer, with marquetry of various woods


Height: 34.75 in, Width: 55.75 in, Depth: 21.5 in

Labels and date

British; about 1775
Harewood and marquetry of several woods on a carcase of pine

This commode (chest of drawers or low cupboard) is thought to have been made by William Moore of Dublin (working 1782-1815) because it is closely similar to one he supplied to the Duke of Portland in 1782. Identical marquetry is found on commodes made by the London firm of Mayhew and Ince (working 1758/9-1804), who had earlier employed Moore. [1999]

Production Note

This is attributed to William Moore of Dublin on the basis of its similarity to a commode supplied by Moore to the Duke of Portland in 1782 (according to an ivory label on the back). William Moore trained with Mayhew & Ince in London before moving to Dublin, and the influence of their house style on his is very evident in the Portland commode, both in the semicircular form and the style of marquetry. It has been suggested that he may in fact have simply imported the commode from Mayhew and Ince and retailed it to the Duke of Portland; but there are subtle differences in Moore's style, particularly in the rather less accomplished marquetry, which suggest that the Portland commode was genuinely a product of his workshop, and that pieces like W.56-1925 can very reasonably be attributed to him.




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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