It is extremely rare to be able to firmly attribute a piece of furniture to an English cabinet-maker but thanks to the efforts of Lucy Wood we are able to attribute this elegant Georgian pier commode to Mayhew and Ince.
John Mayhew and William Ince along with Thomas Chippendale and William Vile were the finest cabinet-makers of the mid-late Eighteenth Century. During their unusually long partnership from 1759-1803 they worked at premises on Broad Street and subsequently at Marshall Street in central London. Mayhew and Ince understood the importance of pattern books in promoting their business and published the Uninversal System in 1762; eight years after their competitor Thomas Chippendale and published his The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director.
Mayhew and Ince's clients were among the the elite of Georgian society and the firm had close connections with the most fashionable architect of the period, Robert Adam. This relationship began at Coventry House, Piccadilly and Croome Court for the Sixth Earl of Coventry.
A key feature of Mayhew and Ince's finest pieces is the use of free flowing marquetry decoration with a vocabulary often relating to a decorative interior scheme or to emphasise the lineage of a patron. This commode's unusual chain-linked Palmyra sunflower frieze reflects the Neo-classical taste promoted by Robert Adam and is inspired by Robert Wood's engravings of Apollo's temple at Palmyra, published in 1753. The idiosyncratic decoration of the commode's top is probably due to a special request from the patron and includes a dragon fly, a caduceus, a scallop shell and musical instruments.