Interestingly the pair of commodes did not sell; presumably they did not reach the reserve price, but there is more Ince & Mayhew furniture for sale in another Christie’s Auction to be held on 10th November in London.
There is a secretaire-bookcase which has been attributed to Ince & Mayhew, dated circa 1775. It is made of burr-yew, mahogany and engraved marquetry, the yew wood with ebonised details being an Ince & Mayhew feature. If you look at photo 4 on the Christie’s web site, which shows the top of the bookcase, you will be convinced it is by the firm. The estimate is £10,000 - £15,000, a quarter that asked for the two commodes, so it will be interesting to see if it finds a buyer. In the lot essay I learnt that “A pair of mahogany bookcases by Ince & Mayhew with carved fluted friezes was purchased by the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother for Clarence House from Olantigh, Kent. One of these appears in a photograph of the refurbished Lancaster Room, M. Hogg, 'Clarence House,' The World of Interiors, October 2003, p. 199.” Olantigh House was near Wye in Kent and one of the owners, Jacob Sawbridge made a fortune as a Director of the South Seas Company and slavery, then was expelled from parliament when the South Seas Bubble burst. His great grandson was also an MP and was unseated twice for bribery!
Also in the sale are a pair of giltwood open armchairs, attributed to Ince & Mayhew as they are identical to twelve cabriolet chairs made for James Alexander for Caledon House, estimated in May 1783 at 3 guineas each. They were made for the Oval Drawing room. The estimate for these is £8,000 - £12,000.
Finally there are two giltwood chairs with lion heads on the back and the arms and this time there is a sofa with a similar design which was sold in 2018. The estimate for these is £30,000 - £50,000. The lion motif was possibly designed by Sir William Chambers who was closely associated with Ince & Mayhew at Blenheim Palace.
 Hugh Roberts, ‘Unequall’d Elegance’: Mayhew and Ince’s Furniture for James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon (2009) Furniture History Volume XLV 101–141. 2009 Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23410720
It's a delight to look through the photos of the two Ince & Mayhew commodes that are for sale in Christie's Exceptional Sale to be held on 13th October in New York. Both commodes have marquetry panels which depict classical designs, some derived from Sir William Hamilton and Baron d'Hancarville's, Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Naples, 1766-67, and some from T. Martyn and J. Lettice's, Antiquities of Herculaneum, 1773. Christie's have helpfully included some of the original engravings and it is fun to see how William Ince has interpreted them. The panels are marquetry, with the facial features finished either in pen or by burning the timber.
Some of these figures occur on other items of Ince & Mayhew furniture. For example the Bacchus and Ampellus are also on the corner commodes that are in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - see p.71 of William Ince - Cabinet Maker - and they are on a commode at Badminton House, Gloucestershire - see p.232 of Catalogue of Commodes by Lucy Wood. The vestal bearing a fruit-tazza and an ewer is also on a commode sold by Christie's in 2008, and the dancer with tambourine which is on the top of one of these commodes also appears on a commode sold by
Sotheby's in 2014.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to buy these commodes and have them somewhere on public display in the UK? Alas we don't have a spare $60,000.
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.