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  • Cabinet
    Fourdinois, Alexandre-Georges, born 1799 - died 1871
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1855 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fourdinois, Alexandre-Georges, born 1799 - died 1871 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved walnut; the carcase and drawer linings of oak

  • Museum number:

    2692:1, 2-1856

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

When the V&A’s predecessor, the South Kensington Museum, was first founded, one of its stated aims was to provide models of the finest craftsmanship for young designers and artisans. The displays at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London had already shown the British government how far ahead the French were in terms of design. The government feared that France would consequently overtake Britain in the success of its manufacturing industries and craft trades. At the International Exhibition in Paris in 1855 the British government was a keen purchaser for the new museum, which had been started as a museum of manufactures.

This cabinet won a Grand Medal of Honour at the 1855 exhibition and was greatly admired for the skill of its carving. The government paid £320 for it. The firm of Fourdinois supplied furniture to the Empress Eugénie at the Palais de Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, in the same Renaissance Revival style, which imitated the form and decoration of furniture made in about 1550.

Physical description

Two-tiered walnut cabinet, with double-doored cupboards on both tiers, surmounted by a broken pediment. The front corners of the cabinet are carved on the lower tier with figures of caryatids, and on the upper tier with baluster columns, carved with foliage and other formal motifs. The doors and main panels of the cabinet are carved with scrolling foliage. The doors of the lower tier show aedicules set with putti. Those of the upper tier are carved centrally with oval panels with low relief figures of Hercules and Vulcan, and Venus and Cupid.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1855 (made)


Fourdinois, Alexandre-Georges, born 1799 - died 1871 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved walnut; the carcase and drawer linings of oak


Height: 290 cm, Width: 127 cm, Depth: 61 cm

Object history note

Purchased directly from the Paris International Exhibition of 1855 for the Museum

Descriptive line

Two-tiered cabinet of walnut, carved in the Renaissance style, with oval panels showing Hercules and Vulcan, and Venus and Cupid.

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

Pollen, John Hungerford, Ancient and Modern Furniture and Woodwork In the South Kensington Museum . London: Chapman and Hall for the Committee of the Council on Education, 1874, p. 61
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Second Empire. Art in France under Napoleon III. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1978, pp. 105-6 ill. Catalogue of an exhibition, 1 October - 26 November 1978
Ledoux-Lebard, Denise, Les Ebénistes du XIVe Siècle, 1795-1889. Paris: Editions de l'Amateur, 1985. pp. 203-8.
Haizet, Raphaëlle, 'Le Mobilier Napoléon III', L'Estampille, no. 142, (February 1982), pp. 44-52
Gabet, Olivier, 'French cabinet makers and England. The case of the Maison Fourdinois (1835-85)', Apollo, vol.CLV, no. 479 (January 2002), pp. 22-31)
Apollo, vol CLVI, no. 491, Jan. 2003, pp. 14-19

Labels and date



'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900'

This cabinet won a Grand Medal of Honour at the Paris 1855 Exhibition whence it was purchased for £320. Its ornament is based on cabinets produced in Paris in about 1550. Fourdinois supplied much furniture to the Empress Eugènie, including, in 1860, cabinets for the Palais de Fontainebleau with simlar carved decorations. [1987-2006]


Walnut; Oak


Cabinet-making; Carved

Subjects depicted





Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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