Surrey Auctioneer Discovers Rare French Cupboard

Nineteenth Century Commode Appears Identical To One Sold In London Auction

surrey auctionA 19th century commode apparently identical to one sold recently by one of the Big Two international London salerooms has been found in a house near Farnham. Estimated conservatively at £8,000-12,000, it could fetch much more in a Surrey auction sale next month.

The London auctioneer described their example as a “fine French ormolu-mounted mahogany commode à vantaux after the model by Guillaume Benneman”. He was a prominent Parisian ébéniste who famously furnished Louis XVI’s apartments at Compiègne at Fontainbleau in 1786. He was also the last cabinet-maker to French royalty before the French Revolution.

The commode, its description translates as “cupboard with doors enclosing drawers”, was a late 19th century copy of Benneman’s original.

Leading Surrey auctioneers Ewbank’s have uncovered a second late 19th century example of the same commode, apparently identical in appearance to that sold in London. It will highlight the saleroom’s next fine art and antiques auction on March 20.

“This is a remarkable coincidence,” auctioneer Chris Ewbank said. “The commode was among a number of good pieces of furniture from the same house on the outskirts of Farnham and its fine quality was obvious as soon as we saw it. We were amazed when our research turned up what appears to be a match to the one sold in London.

“The Benneman commode was copied widely throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our example being stamped ‘L. Marchand’ whom, as yet, we have not been able to trace, but there is no doubting the quality of the piece. If the buyer of the London commode wants its sister to make a pair, we can help.”

The commode is described as having a heavy white marble top above a panelled frieze with trailing oak leaf mounts, fronted by a pair of drawers, above a pair of elliptically panelled doors heavily mounted with trophies of War and acanthus rosettes. The interior is fitted with six trays, with panelled concave sides and ribbon-bound arrow-form front angles, while the whole thing stands on massive acanthus-mounted hairy paw feet.

The Farnham family who are downsizing and have consigned it to the Ewbank’s sale acquired it some 70 years ago, having purchased it in a country house sale.

surrey auctionsFrom the same home is a good Italian marble table top table, the top inlaid with an impressive geometric pattern of specimen marble of varying colours and grain. It is supported on an ornate, late 18th or early 19th century carved wood gilt and gesso stand, decorated in the baroque manner with cherubs and floral swags. The table, which is said to have stood in the house for 100 years, is estimated at £5,000-8,000.

A good 19th century mahogany breakfront bookcasefrom the same home is more understated but no less fine quality. It has a central carved and pierced broken arch pediment over a dentil and blind fret cornice and three astragal glazed doors, the lower part with well figured flamme mahogany doors. It is estimated at £1,500-2,500.
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Two good bracket clocks from a London estate are also among early consignments to the sale. More valuable of the two is a 17th century example by London maker Thomas Pare. The clock has a walnut case surmounted with a pierced gilt metal caddy top decorated with cherubs. Its double fusee, twin train movement strikes on a bell and has a brass and silvered dial with subsidiary date aperture. The backplate of the movement is inscribed 'Thomas Pare Londini Fecit' and is estimated at £4,000-6,000.

The other is a 19th century rosewood cased bracket clock, the silvered dial with double fusee, twin train movement, striking on a bell, the dial engraved Inglis 39 St. John's Square London'. It is estimated at £2,000-3,000.

Further entries of good furniture, fine art, antiques and collectors’ items are invited for the March 20 sale, the closing date for which is March 6. For further information, please contact the auctioneers on 01483 223101 or