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Bookcase

Bookcase

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1740-50 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Walnut, with a glazed upper stage with veneered cupboard fronts below, with stringing around the edge.

  • Museum number:

    W.2-1925

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bookcase was purchased by the Museum from a London firm of antique dealers, Lenygon and Morant Ltd, in 1924, as a showcase. Its large glass doors were thought suitable to display objects from a bequest in 1910 by Captain H.B. Murray. The price of £180 was paid for from a legacy also from Captain Murray, and justified because 'it is a very reasonable price and not more than a modern piece on similar lines would cost to make today'. There is a Museum photograph of the cabinet displaying church silver. From the mid-1960s until 2008 it was used by the National Art Library for storing books.

The antique dealers who sold it in 1924 said that the bookcase had come from West Wycombe Park, a house Buckinghamshire, and it is similar, though not identical, to some bookcases still in the library there.

Physical description

Large walnut bookcase in two stages with a glazed upper stage and doors to lower stage. The two doors have six large panels of glass in each. The original key-hole is half-way up the door but there are two new key-holes probably added by the National Art Library above and below; the keys open these locks. Inside are four shelves on each side, including at least three later shelves probably added after arrival at the museum. The shelves fit into grooves in the sides of the carcase and are adjustable. The lower stage has two doors which both open downwards, the right-hand door with a central moulded strip which holds the left-hand door closed. The cupboards contain two fixed shelves. The lowers doors and plinth are veneered, with linear stringing in a paler wood around the edges. The cornice is large and overhangs the top of the bookcase.

The bookcase held together with two screws from the upper stage into the lower stage. The upper stage sits within a moulding on the lower stage.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1740-50 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Walnut, with a glazed upper stage with veneered cupboard fronts below, with stringing around the edge.

Dimensions

Height: 258 cm, Width: 213 cm, Depth: 48 cm

Object history note

The bookcase was purchased from Lenygon and Morant Ltd in 1924 as a showcase to exhbit objects in the Murray Bequest, justified because 'it is a very reasonable price and not more than a modern piece on similar lines would cost to make today' (Col Strange). It was purchased for £180 out of funds from the Murray legacy. Eric Maclagan said that 'this piece will be a great help in the decorative arrangement of the Gallery...'

After it ceased to be used a museum showcase, it was used as a bookcase in the National Art Library West Room from approximately the mid-1960s until 2008 when the room was redeveloped as a gallery and was then put in store.

The antique dealer from who the bookcase was bought said that it came from West Wycombe Park, Bucks and it is similar to bookcases in the library there.

Historical context note

The bookcase was probably made for West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire, and is very similar to bookcases still in the library there.

Descriptive line

Walnut bookcase with glazed doors upper stage with six panels each, and two cupboards below.

Materials

Walnut; Glass

Techniques

Veneering; Glazing

Categories

Furniture

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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