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  • Cabinet
    Burges, William A.R.A., born 1827 - died 1881
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1858 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Burges, William A.R.A., born 1827 - died 1881 (designer)
    Poynter, Edward John (Sir), born 1836 - died 1919 (painter)
    Harland and Fisher (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood, painted and gilded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lt. Col. P. H. W. Russell

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.216:1, 2-1961

  • Gallery location:

    On display at National Trust, Knightshayes Court, Devon []

This tall narrow cabinet is one of a pair (Circ.218:1-1961) that the architect William Burges designed to fit into two alcoves in a house belonging to H. G. Yatman. These, together with a third, larger, cabinet also in the V&A collection (Museum number Circ.217-1961), demonstrate the highly individual Gothic Revival style that Burges developed. He based his designs for the cabinets on the medieval cupboards – architectural in form – that he had seen in the cathedrals of northern France. The top of this cabinet suggests a sloping roof with battlements. The interior is also painted and gilded; the ceiling has stars against a blue background, above painted arcading.

Burges was one of the most distinguished British architects of the 19th century. He also designed furniture, metalwork and interior decoration, and drew inspiration from the construction and decoration of surviving medieval furniture. The Reverend John A. Yatman, H. G. Yatman’s brother, also had a taste for Gothic Revival furniture, and employed Burges to design his house at Winscombe Hill near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

On loan to National Trust Knightshayes Court.

Physical description

Tall, narrow cabinet on an open four-legged stand supported on a plinth. The front face only is decorated; the sides and back are plain painted wood. The single glazed door with patterned leading is surmounted by a cresting in the form of a pitched roof. The front of the cabinet is painted and gilded, with gothic shapes and lettering. The interior has two shelves and is painted and gilded, the inner ceiling with stars on a blue ground above a painted arcade.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1858 (made)


Burges, William A.R.A., born 1827 - died 1881 (designer)
Poynter, Edward John (Sir), born 1836 - died 1919 (painter)
Harland and Fisher (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Wood, painted and gilded


Height: 224 cm, Width: 56 cm, Depth: 35 cm

Object history note

This cabinet, one of pair, was commissioned together with a third, larger, cabinet, by H.G. Yatman, an early patron of Burges. The pair of cabinets were designed to fit into alcoves in Yatman's home. The cabinets were given to the V&A by Yatman's grandson, Lt Col P.H.W. Russell.

Descriptive line

Cabinet, painted and gilded, one of a pair designed by William Burges, made by Harland and Fisher and painted by E. J. Poynter, England, 1858.

Labels and date

Designed by William Burges (1827-1881)
Made by Harland and Fisher, London, painted by E.J. Poynter (1836-1919)
Wood painted with gilding and metal leaf
Circ.216,217 & 218-1961
Commissioned by H.G. Yatman, an early patron of Burges, who gave him the chance to create his first pieces of painted furniture. The form of the larger cabinet was inspired by the celebrated mediaeval painted cabinet then in Noyon Cathedral. The technique used upon the roof is to cover the wood with a metal leaf, either tin or zinc and to paint transparently over it. This is a mediaeval technique which Burges gleaned from the manuscript of the eleventh century monk Theophilus. The painted decoration depicts Dante and Caxton and other subjects which relate to writing and printing. The inside of the doors are painted with portraits of Burges and Poynter. The larger cabinet was borrowed back from Yatman by Burges and shown in the London International Exhibition of 1862. The two smaller display cabinets were designed to fit into alcoves in a room in Yatman's house. [1993 to 2001]

Production Note

Reason For Production: Commission




Painting; Gilding



Production Type



Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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