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The Wines and Beers Sideboard

Sideboard
1859 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The designer William Burges showed this cabinet at the International Exhibition of 1862 (South Kensington, London). This Museum purchased it at the 1862 exhibition for £40. The painted decoration is suitably light-hearted, given that the cabinet was designed for storing and serving drinks. It shows an imaginary battle between wines and beers, in which Continental wines, represented by Sir Bacchus, fight with British beers, represented by Sir John Barleycorn. Also represented are female warriors personifying Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, Hock and Champagne.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 5 parts.

  • Wines and Beers Sideboard
  • Backboard
  • Key
  • Slab
  • Shelf
Materials and Techniques
Wood, painted and gilded, with velvet-lined replacement backboard.
Brief Description
Sideboard, 'The Wines and Beers sideboard', by William Burges
Physical Description
Rectangular sideboard on a stand, with a marble top, the flat surfaces painted with figures and gothic ornament. Above the sideboard is a replacement backboard lined with velvet and supporting a shelf.
Dimensions
  • With backboard height: 167.7cm
  • Width: 139.7cm
  • Depth: 43.2cm
  • Without backboard height: 104.5cm
Style
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
  • SIDEBOARD AND WINE CABINET ENGLISH; 1859 Wood with painted and gilt decoration Designed by William Burges. Painted by N.H.J. Westlake. Made by S Fisher of Harland & Fisher. This cabinet was shown at the 1859 Architectural Exhibition and again at the London 1862 International Exhibition.(pre July 2001)
  • This cabinet was shown at the 1859 Architectural Exhibition and then in the International Exhibition of 1862. It was purchased at the latter by this Museum fo £40. The painted decoration depicts 'The Battle of the Wines and Beers' in which Continental wines, represented by Sir Bacchus, fight with British beers, represented by Sir John Barleycorn. Also represented are female warriors personifying Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, Hock and Champagne. Inside are four Neo-Classical cameos representing Ginger beer, Lemonade, Seltzer Water and Soda Water.
Object history
William Burges exhibited this cabinet in the Ninth Architectural Exhibition, held at 9, Conduit Street, Regent Street, London, in 1859. It was exhibited again in the Medieval Court at the London International Exhibition of 1862 where it was purchased by the South Kensington Museum for £40. Photographs of the Medieval Court in 1862 show the sideboard with a high backboard decorated with a pattern of studs. This may be the '"reredos", some five feet high, covered with velvet', described by Mrs Loftie, The Dining Room, page 49, in 1878.



The diaper pattern used above and below the central panel is similar to one on a Japanese cabinet in Burges's collection and the same pattern was used on another cabinet shown in the 1862 International Exhibition (J.B. Waring, Masterpieces of Industrial Art & Sculpture at the International Exhibition, 1862, pl. 288.)



The male portrait to the right of the central panel is J.M. Whistler and that to the left of the central panel may be D.G. Rossetti. The two female portraits have not yet been identified.



In 1900 the sideboard was on display in the Upper Gallery of the Bethnal Green Museum, with other pieces of furniture to encourage and educate local furniture-making trades.



In 1964 the sideboard was lent to the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, on long loan. This was originally requested in exchange for one of the painted chairs designed by Burges which was borrowed for display in the new Nineteenth Century Primary Gallery in the V&A. In 1980 the termination of the long loan of the sideboard was requested since it was needed for display in the Primary Gallery and the Burges chair was returned to the William Morris Gallery .
Historical context
Among other Burges cabinets known to have been painted by Poynter are the Cadmus bookcase (Ashmolean Museum Oxford), the Yatman cabinet (also in the V&A), and the Fry cabinet (private collection).



Two other known cabinets have Bacchus-related designs: the mirrored buffet with the 'Martyr de St Bacchus' shown at the 1859 Architectural Exhibition and the 1862 London International Exhibition, painted by Nathaniel Westlake and now at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a 'St Bacchus' sideboard similar to the V&A example, but painted by Thomas Morten and now at the Detroit Institue of Arts.
Production
Reason For Production: Exhibition
Summary
The designer William Burges showed this cabinet at the International Exhibition of 1862 (South Kensington, London). This Museum purchased it at the 1862 exhibition for £40. The painted decoration is suitably light-hearted, given that the cabinet was designed for storing and serving drinks. It shows an imaginary battle between wines and beers, in which Continental wines, represented by Sir Bacchus, fight with British beers, represented by Sir John Barleycorn. Also represented are female warriors personifying Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, Hock and Champagne.
Bibliographic References
  • Jonathan Meyer, 'The Nineteenth Century. Empire and Eclecticism', in 'The Layman's Book of British Furniture 1600-2000'. London, The Intelligent Layman Publisher Ltd, 2005, pp. 104-185, ill. p. 162
  • Sato, Tomoko & Watanabe, Toshio (ed.) Japan and Britain: an aesthetic dialogue, 1850-1930, London, Barbican Art Gallery, 1991
  • Elizabeth Aslin, Nineteenth Century English Furniture (London, Faber, 1962), plate 60
Collection
Accession Number
8042:1 to 3-1862

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record createdJuly 19, 2001
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