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Top 10 Furniture

1. Warwick Cabinet

Artist / Makers: Mayhew and Ince, Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732)
Place: France
Object Type: cabinet
Period: Louis XIV
Actual Date: c.1690
Century: 17th century
Materials: Wood, Oak, Ebony
Museum Accession Number: 1979.63/FW

Here is a Cabinet highly curious, made of ebony, inlaid with wood of various shades and colours, beautifully representing flowers, birds and various animals. it appeared like  a beautiful painting representing flowers, a cock, a dog, etc. his masterpiece of floral marquetry is almost certainly from the workshop of Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732). The cabinet is likely to have been commissioned and brought to England by the 1st Earl of Warwick, to display the marquetry. Born in Paris, the son of a Dutch cabinet maker,  Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) is know often regarded as the greatest cabinet maker of all time. He soon came to the attention of the chief French finance minister, Colbert, who recommended him to King Louis XIV as the most skilful cabinet maker in Paris. Boulle was given royal protection and a workshop at the Louvre, which gave him exemption from the strict guild system, which then regulated furniture production in France. This panel is a masterpiece of his early floral marquetry. Read More

2. Lady's writing table

Artist / Maker: Martin Carlin (d.1785)
Place: Paris
Object Type: desk
Period: Louis XV
Actual Date: 1765
Century: 18th century
Height: 80.5 cm
Materials: Porcelain, Tulipwood
Museum Accession Number: 1985.4/FW

It appears to be a prototype for a series of 'bonheurs de jour' to be made by Carlin between 1765 and 1774.  This small writing desk is veneered in tulipwood on oak. With special use of Sèvres, 17 Sevres porcelain plaques have been used to plaques to ornament the table, finely chased and gilt bronze mount the raised back section, which contains three drawers.  The main drawer reveals a velvet writing surface with gilt-bronze writing fitting. One plaque carries the Sevres date letter and the decorator's mark of Antoine-Toussaint Cornaille. Each plaque is bordered by a broad band of green with gilded decoration of oak leaves, with crossed stems in the centre of each side, the details of veining on the leaves and hatching on acorn cups very finely engraved. Read More

3. A pair of Gilt-Bronze fire dogs

Place: France
Object Type: fire dog
Period: Louis XV
Actual Date: c. 1735
Century: 18th century

Size: Height: 39 cm; Width: 30 cm.
Material: Gilt-bronze 
Museum Accession Number: FW.118.a & b

Each is cast in two pieces. The lower section is a roaring lion, its front paws supported on doubler acanthus scrolls, which continue upwards into further architectural scrolls with diapering between, which surround and surmount the figure of the lion. Above the lion, on the scrolls, is mounted the separate casting of a mythical winged beast with the head of a dragon, the fore-parts of a lion, and the tail of a serpent.  These are seen depicting scrolls and scrolling acanthus providing support for semi-reclining nude figures of a woman and a man, possibly Venus and Vulcan. In Classical mythology Vulcan was blacksmith to the gods, and thus was a suitable character to decorate the hearth.  They would originally have been attached to long, curing fire-irons on which burning logs would have been supported.

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4. Wardrobe

Artist / Maker: Monbro
Place: Paris
Object Type: cupboard
Period: Napoleon III
Actual Date: c.1855
Century: 19th century
Height: 269 cm.
Materials: Marquetry, Tulipwood
Museum Accession Number: FW.110

This wardrobe is veneered in tulipwood and decorated with both wood and metal marquetry.  One of the grandest pieces acquired by the Bowes, it is likely to be Monbro’s but is not identifiable from bills.  The marquestry is of exceptionally high quality, and is likely produced by Joseph Cremer, who shared work in the International Exhibitions 1852, 1855 and 1862.  He may have supplied this piece directly to the Bowes, or to Monbro fils aine, or supplied them with the marquetry only. The door incorporates a large looking glass framed with ormolu c-scrolls, birds and clovers. Mirrored shelves on either side would have displayed some of Joesphine's objects. The wardrobe is raised on short capriole legs, mounted with ormolu roses and shell-work at the knees and with acanthus scrolled ormolu sabots.  On each bay the aprons are heavily mounted in ormolu with central cartouches.  Above an arched cresting, with floral and trellis marquetry panels, is surmounted by a rococo cartouche in ormolu with acanthus supporters.  Inside the cupboard is lined with burr walnut veneer and fitted with shelves below a hanging space. Read More

5. Music Cabinet

Artist / Makers: Liberty of London, Leonard F. Wyburd
Place: England
Object Type: cabinet
Period: Victoria
Broad Date: Late Victorian
Actual Date: c.1897
Century: 19th century
Height: 145 cm.
Materials: Mahogany, Sycamore
Museum Accession Number: FW.225

Made of Mahogany, with marquetry of several woods this music cabinet was produced by Liberty & Co. It was possibly created to a design by Leonard F Wyburd. The inlay surrounding the mahogany cabinet is of sycamore and other light woods of stylised plant motifs.  The four uprights are square-sectioned with flattened feet and capitals.  The cabinet doors are each inlaid with a formalised 'tree' and open to show six shallow shelves or drawers.  Beneath the cabinet is a low open compartment, the sides slatted.  The back-board rises above the cabinet, the edge inlaid with paler woods.  Lock stamped "LIBERTY/Co Ld/LONDON" Read More

6. Botanical Cabinet

Place: England
Object Type: cabinet
Period: George III
Broad Date: Late Georgian
Actual Date: c.1780
Century: 18th century
Height: 136 cm.
Materials: Oak, Kingwood, Box Wood
Museum Accession Number: FW.56

The cabinet was made for Mary Eleanor Lyon-Bowes (1749-1800), Countess of Strathmore, grandmother of John Bowes. A keen amateur botanist she commissioned William Paterson, a Scottish botanist, to collect plants for her during four journeys of the Cape of Good Hope between 1777 and 1779.  This cabinet contained part of her collection of specimens until at least the 1850s; their whereabouts is not now known.  She maintained hothouses at Gibside, Northumberland, and at her London house, Stanley House.  The medallions on the front seem to be portrait busts but it has not been possible to identify the subjects.  Inside the cabinet's legs are hidden lead pipes and taps.  These were possibly designed to regulate temperature and humidity. Read More

7. Revolving-band Clock

Artist / Maker: Martin a Paris
Origin: France
Place: Paris
Object Type: clock
Period: Louis XV
Actual Date: c.1720
Century: 18th century
Height: 65 cm.
Materials: Ebony, Gilt-bronze
Museum Accession Number: Founders/CW.10

The plinth veneered in ebony with boulle marquetry, with 19th century restorations. The clock is in two distinct halves.  The removable top hemisphere contains the striking train, activated by a lever moved by pins at the hour and half hour points on the minute ring held in three places, one of which is hinged, perhaps to allow the hemisphere to be put in place more easily.. The lower hemisphere contains the going train.  The escapement on this clock is unusually set to the side and is of small tic-tac form.   The clock has received minimum alteration and repair.  The top hemisphere is held in three places, one of which is hinged, perhaps to allow the hemisphere to be put in place more easily. Read More

8. Gas-lights for Northumberland House

Artist / Maker: William Collins
Place: England
Object Type: gas-lights
Period: George IV
Broad Date: Regency
Actual Date: 1823
Century: 19th century
Size: Height: 310 cm.
Materials: Glass, Brass
Museum Accession Number: FW.71.A & B

William Collins undertook a large commission to supply of decorative bronze work for the first floor parade rooms at Northumberland House. He supplied chandeliers and the staircase balustrade, as well as these two large candelabra.  Each base is inscribed ‘The candelabra and scroll began Aug. 1822.  Completed Decr. 1823. W. Collins’.  The torches are raised on square mahogany plinths with cylindrical pedestals, diapered all over patterned with leaves and flowers.  The lower parts show applied foliated scrolls, the upper halves cast in palm-tree form with leaf and flower capitals.  A shallow, gadrooned urn supports the five light branches, rising like palm branches with acanthus enclosing the outer ends. The glass globes are later additions. This pair of candelabra originally made as gas fittings; now converted to electricity. Collins had already made the decorative railing for the staircase in 'Grecian Metal' (lacquered bronze). Read More

9. Bed

Place: France
Object Type: bed
Actual Date: c. 1850
Century: 19th century
Size: Height: Approx. 470 cm
Materials: Gilt, Brocade, Beech wood
Museum Accession Number: FW.112

Carved and gilt wood bed with separate canopy upholstered in silk brocade woven with red and white flowers on a blue ground, in wide strips separated by a twisted ribbon motif.  The sides and foot of the bed have deep aprons carved and pierced in this style, the decoration centring on shells at the sides and on acanthus scrolls at the foot.  The footboard and headboard have plain upholstered panels.  The headboard shows amorini with arrows and torches amidst flowers. The bed no longer has its own mattress.  The canopy and curtains hang from the ceiling and the back wall.  The height can be varied quite a lot by the hanging; the interior is upholstered with blue and white quilted satin, with a central tassel hanging from a four-leafed acanthus ornament.  The dome has a deep valance below a shaped cornice, the brocade hung in deep, looped swags, edged with a heavy gold and blue bullion fringe.  Between the swags, both inside and outside the valance hang silken cords with heavy tassels knotted. Read More

10. Secretaire

Height: 118 cm.
Artist / Maker: Monbro
Place: Paris
Object Type: desk
Period: Napoleon III
Actual Date: c.1855
Century: 19th century
Materials: Marquetry, Kingwood
Museum Accession Number: FW.95

It is very similar in form to fall-front writing desks made by Jean-Francois Dubut, Veneered in walnut with cross-banding on a carcase of oak.  The lower tier, is cusped bracket feet consists of two long and two short drawers with brass drop handles and escutcheons surmounted by coronets.  The upper tier has a plain drop-front, with cross banding and a coroneted escutcheon.  It is surmounted by a simple entablature with a cushion frieze, which conceals a drawer front.  The fall front opens to reveal a bank of fourteen drawers surrounding a small central cupboard.  Read More