Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Dressing table

Dressing table

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1820-1835 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted satinwood, with Sheffield plate handles

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from James James

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In Britain painted satinwood furniture based on styles of the 1780s and 1790s remained popular until at least the 1830s. Cabinet makers adapted and changed the designs slightly to satisfy the fashions of the time. This dressing-table was possibly adapted from a design published in 1788 for a combined writing- and dressing- table. It may have been made in the 1830s as there are hand made screws used in the construction and handles made of Sheffield plate, a technique which fell out of use in the mid-1830s.

The dressing-table belonged to James James (1819-1879), one of the earliest collectors of English painted satinwood furniture, who believed that it had been made in the 1780s or 1790s. He lent the table and a painted satinwood commode to the Museum from 1866 and in 1870 the Museum bought the table and the commode from him for £200 each. There are several Victorian versions of the dressing-table, made by firms such as Hindley & Wilkinson or Maples, showing that the design continued to be popular in the 1880s and 1890s.

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)


1820-1835 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted satinwood, with Sheffield plate handles

Marks and inscriptions


Height: 132 cm, Width: 101.7 cm, Depth: 53 cm approx

Object history note

Museum negative 74591 shows this on display in Gallery 40 in 1936 as part of a display of Georgian furniture.

Descriptive line

Dressing table of painted satinwood, with handles of Sheffield Plate

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Clive Wainwright, 'The Dark Ages of Art Revived; or, Edwards & Roberts and the Regency Revival', Connoisseur, Vol. 198, No. 196 (June 1978)
Lucy Wood, The Lady Lever Art Gallery: Catalogue of Commodes (London: HMSO, 1994), pp. 27--28, 280--82, fig. 254

Production Note

Acquired in 1870 as late 18th-century, but no documented 18th-century piece of this form is known. Redated by Clive Wainwright to the 1860s (shortly before its arrival in the Museum on loan in 1866). But so late a date seems unlikely in view of the use of Sheffield Plate handles (Sheffield Plate was superseded by British plating in the mid-1830s and by electroplating after 1840), and of screws which are not wholly machine-made. Several late 19th-century versions of this design, by Hindley & Wilkinson, are known -- all of which were presumably inspired by this prime version, which became very well known after entering the V&A collection.
The previous owner, James James (agent to the Rothschilds) was a serious early collector of English furniture, unlikely to have tried deliberately to deceive the Museum.




Cabinet-making; Painting




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.