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George Oakley and the Princely Taste

George Oakley (1773-1841) enjoyed a remarkably successful and long career as an 'upholder' and cabinet-maker to a fashion-sensitive clientele that included several members of the Royal family. He received a Royal Warrant in 1799 after a visit from Queen Charlotte. It was noted in the Morning Chronicle of May 1799 '...her MAJESTY, the Duke and Duchess of YORK, and the PRINCESSES...highly approved of the splendid variety which has justly attracted the notice of the fashionable world'. In 1804 the London correspondent on the Journal de Luxus und der Moden (Weimar) wrote 'all people with taste buy their furniture at Oakley's, the most tasteful of the London cabinetmakers'. See M.Jourdain and R.Edwards, Georgian Cabinet Makers, London 1944, p.74.


The French influence that was to dominate the Regency period fashions was introduced by Percier and Fontaine's Recueil de Décorations Intérieures (1812) and popularised in England by Thomas Hope, in the furnishing of his house on Duchess Street, and Louis Le Gaigneur who opened up a 'buhl' manufactory off Edgware Road. The look was to attract the attention of the Prince Regent, who patronised both Le Gaigneur and Oakley.


Oakley worked for the Prince Regent at Carlton House and also supplied furniture for the Mansion House, but his work for the Cheere family of Papworth Hall, Cambridgeshire, is perhaps his best-known commission. Oakley's bill to Cheere lists a 'mahogany winged library case in the Grecian stile' (sold Christies London, 18 Nov 1993, lot 117); an 'elegant satinwood winged wardrobe fitted with drawers and clothes shelves, and enclosed with panel doors, formed of choice woods and elaborately inlaid with ebony £75' (the most expensive item in the Papworth commi