Chest of Drawers Chest Commode Architectural Facade Enclosed Renaissance Cedar



A museum quality, English, Late-Renaissance, cedar enclosed chest of drawers with exceptional snakewood, walnut & oak with an architectural or façade front

This is the most sophisticated English model of chest of drawers conceived as a cabinet piece with an architectural front intended to disguise the drawers. This chest exhibits the mastery of English Late-Renaissance, cabinet making combining woods prized for their exoticism, color and beautiful figuring with carving and moulding in different ornamental patterns to simulate materials found within an architectural façade inviting conversation, curiosity and awe. The architectural vocabulary and the use of snakewod which was a highly fashionable exotic timber would be decoded by the cognoscenti as a high status, sophisticated piece which would have been made for a significant interior. Cedar was much prized for its rich color, light figuring and lustrous patina and it is rare to find large pieces in cedar which is why the top has been made from narrow sections. The success lies in the skill of the cabinet maker in balancing proportions, combining layers and different patterns of inlaid, carved and moulded woods of different colors with finely, figured graining to create a striking, statement piece which, when new, would have been very bright and the contrast between the woods would have been dramatic and dazzling. This chest is in exceptional condition, the replaced handles and feet is common as these elements have been subject to so much use over 400 years. It is robust and suitable for everyday use.

In two parts. The cedar top has six vertical sections, crossbanded with a moulded edge with a simulated dentil cornice below.

The upper section is fitted with a shallow, long, top drawer conforming to the frieze of a building with four pairs of double corbels dividing it into three vertical sections. The central section has a large, beautifully figured, snakewood panel surrounded by walnut moulding. The two similarly ornamented sections either side have central snakewood panels surrounded by multi-layered, cedar 'H' shaped mouldings with shallow rectangular walnut inlay above, below and snakewood on the sides to create the visual effect of depth.

The second, deep, long drawer in the upper section continues the architectural theme of an upper story of the facade with four cedar capitals and tapering pillars continuing the division into three vertical sections. The central section is headed by a rectangular, cedar section containing the original, chased brass escutcheon with deep cedar moulding aligning with the pillar capitals. Below is a central, walnut arch surrounded by a large, tiered arch, simulating stone, in cedar with snakewood ends and applied snakewood lozenges. The two similarly ornamented sections either side elaborate on the geometric mouldings in the drawer above. They have small central panels of cedar within which the brass handles are mounted, surrounded by a multi-layered, cedar moulding with walnut edge and oak inlaid corners to create depth, surrounded by large, snakewood panels, canted to show the figuring to maximum advantage, within multi-layered, cedar 'H' shaped mouldings with shallow snakewood inlay above, below and on the sides.

The lower section continues the architectural theme of the lower storey fitted with two doors, with a frieze of snakewood and walnut capitals above three cedar pillars. The doors with snakewood friezes faced by cedar moulding above massive, 'H' shaped moulded panels. Each with a finely, figured, central, cedar section surrounded by multi-layered cedar moulding with inlaid cedar corners and large, canted sections of snakewood within an 'H' shaped cedar moulding with snakewood panels above, below and to the sides. They both have skirtings of oak below with cedar inlay and the central pillar is sited on the inside edge of the right door, fitted with the original brass escutcheon. The doors opening to reveal three, fitted, oak drawers with their original, dry patina.

The brass handles are later replacements which is customary, the iron locks, hasp, working locks and two keys are original.

The sides continue the architectural form in a simpler language. The frieze has cedar corbels at either end with a cedar, top, dentil moulding and double 'D' lower moulding containing an oak panel with highly figured medullary rays and three geometric cedar panels. Both the upper and the lower sections contain a pair of oak, finely, figured moulded panels echoing those on the front.

Each section of the back has three oak panels.

The stile feet are later replacements which is common. The back feet have been spliced into the side and have characterful iron bands to reinforce the repair.

Provenance: Private collection.

Literature: Victor Chinnery 'Oak Furniture, The British Tradition' figure 3:406 illustrates a similar example.

Shipping P.O.A. Subject to quotation and will be charged separately.
All prices exclude custom clearance fees which, where appropriate, will be charged directly to the client by your receiving courier, importer or government.
Height 131 cm / 51 34"
Width 119.5 cm / 47 "
Depth 63 cm / 25"

17th Century


circa 1620





Collectors / Designers



Renaissance (Of the period)




GOOD. Wear consistent with age and use.