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Dressing table

Dressing table

  • Place of origin:

    London (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1926-1927 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Johnson, J. F. (designer)
    Heal's (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Mahogany veneered with ebony and shagreen, ivory stringing and handles

  • Museum number:

    W.4:1 to 8-1975

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This dressing table was made in London but shows the influence of fashionable Parisian furniture. At the time it was made Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann was a leading designer. Like Ruhlmann's furniture, it uses very exotic materials, including shagreen (sharkskin) and ebony veneer. The handles and decorative stringing are made of ivory and even the carcase of the dressing table is made of expensive mahogany. The slender legs and delicate lines are similar to Art Deco furniture from Paris. They are also, to a lesser extent, similar to the French furniture in the neo-classical style made during the period 1770-1800 that influenced designers like Ruhlmann.

The design is probably by J.F. Johnson, who was designing furniture for Heal & Sons at the time. The London firm is more usually associated with the Arts and Crafts style, and this dressing table shows that it was keeping abreast of fashion in the 1920s.

The set of bedroom furniture, of which this forms part, was made for the author Dodie Smith.

Physical description

Dressing table made of mahogany veneered with ebony. The left and right sides are each units with two drawers one above the other, raised on four legs joined by stretchers. The top surfaces of these units are covered in shagreen. Between the two drawer units, and joining them, is a lower surface veneered with ebony above three drawers arranged horizontally. The carved drawer handles are made of ivory which is also used as stringing around the drawer fronts and the tops of the drawer units.

Place of Origin

London (manufactured)


1926-1927 (manufactured)


Johnson, J. F. (designer)
Heal's (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Mahogany veneered with ebony and shagreen, ivory stringing and handles


Height: 820 mm, Width: 1290 mm, Depth: 630 mm

Object history note

Made for the author Dodie Smith

Descriptive line

Dressing table made of mahogany and veneered with ebony and shagreen, with ivory handles and stringing. Probably designed by J.F. Johnson and made by Heals, London, 1926-7, for Dodie Smith. Part of an 11-part set, W.3-1975 to W.13-1875.

Labels and date

Designed by J.F. Johnson (British)
Manufactured by Heal & Son, London
Macassar ebony veneer with ivory inlay and shagreen top
About 1927

This Heal table, part of a larger set, is a British interpretation of French designer Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann's historicising Art Deco furniture.

W.4,5&6-1975 [1989-2006]


Mahogany; Ebony; Shagreen; Ivory


Cabinet-making; Veneered


Woodwork; Furniture


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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