Cabinet thumbnail 1
Cabinet thumbnail 2
+9
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Cabinet

1893 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This cabinet combines several functions. The fall front opens to provide a writing surface with compartments for papers above. The cupboards on either side provide storage space. The shaped top lifts up on brass quadrants (supports) to reveal a velvet-lined tray, possibly used for the display of medals or coins.

Historical Associations
This cabinet was first shown at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1889 where mixed reviews included the comment that it looked like an 'exaggerated inlaid tea-caddy on a clumsy stand'. Despite this it became quite a popular design for Morris & Co., the company owned by William Morris. It was still available around 1912 in the firm's catalogue, priced at 98 guineas for a version with decorative marquetry, or at 60 guineas for plainer examples.

People
George Jack supplied furniture design for Morris & Co. from about 1880 and succeeded Philip Webb as chief furniture designer from 1890. He favoured the use of native timbers and the revival of marquetry techniques to embellish furniture, as this piece illustrates.

Materials & Making
Morris & Co. took over the Pimlico workshops of Holland & Co., a large well-established firm of cabinet-makers, in about 1890.This cabinet illustrates the technical expertise and quality of the workmanship associated with experienced cabinet-makers.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 10 parts.

  • Cabinet
  • Stand
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Shelf
  • Shelf
  • Shelf
  • Key
Materials and Techniques
Mahogany, with marquetry of sycamore and other woods
Brief Description
Cabinet, designed by George Jack, made by Morris & Co, London, ca. 1893
Physical Description
Oblong cabinet, with marquetry including naturalistic oak leaf, acorn, ash and thistle motifs on the front and stand, and diaper pattern on the sides and back. Central fall-front panel drops down to form the writing surface with pigeon holes above. Doors at left and right open outwards to reveal four drawers at left, and four shelves at right. Inside of doors are decorated with diagonal striped marquetry. The shaped top lifts up on brass quadrants to reveal a velvet lined tray, possibly used for the display of medals or coins.
Dimensions
  • Height: 141.4cm
  • Width: 131cm
  • Depth: 68.3cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 23/12/1998 by sf
Style
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and Inscriptions
'Morris & Co. 449 Oxford S. W. 1147' (Makers's mark; stamped)
Gallery Label
  • ESCRITOIRE AND STAND ENGLISH; about 1893 Marquetry of sycamore and various woods Designed by George Jack (1855-1932) Made by Morris & Co(pre October 2000)
  • Cabinet English; 1893 Designed by George Washington Jack (1855-1932) Made by Morris & Co., London Marquetry of sycamore and other woods A cabinet of this design was shown in the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1889 and other examples were supplied by Morris & Co. for Stanmore Hall and for Ickworth in 1906. This model, which combines the influence of the Arts and Crafts, in the design of the marquetry, and the fashionable Neo-Georgian style, was illustrated in the firm's catalogue at 98 guineas. Another cabinet, very similar to the example here, is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, having been owned in the late nineteenth century by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead who founded Arts and Crafts communities in California and Woodstock, New York.(1993)
  • British Galleries: George Jack became the chief furniture designer of Morris & Co. in the 1880s. This example of his work shows a later development of the Arts and Crafts style when emphasis was placed on decoration through the use of skilful techniques, such as marquetry. The cabinet was used in Melsetter House, on Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, an important Arts and Crafts house built in 1898-1899.(27/03/2003)
  • International Arts & Crafts George Jack supplied designs for furniture to Morris & Co. from about 1880 and became chief designer there from 1890. This cabinet became quite a popular design. It as based on 18th century models and represented a new direction for Morris & Co. Made in the firm's London workshops, it illustrates the technical expertise of their cabinetmakers.(17/03/2005)
Object history
Designed by George Washington Jack (born in New York, 1855, died in London, 1932); manufactured by Morris & Co., London. Purchased from the Trustees of the Middlemore Estates, London.



The cabinet was presumably ordered from Morris & Co. by Thomas and Theodosia Middlemore for their new house at Melstetter. The house was finished in 1900 and the Middlemores commissioned furnishings from Morris & Co (three tapestries are now in Birmingham Museum). Photographs of Melsetter taken in 1944-5, after Theodosia's death in 1940, show the secretaire in the drawing room, against the panelled wall which has an arched niche at right angles to the window. Copies of the photographs are in the Orkney Library and Archives, Kirkwall.
Historical context
An example of the cabinet was first shown at the Arts and Crafts exhibition of 1889 where mixed reviews included the comment that it looked like an 'exaggerated inlaid tea-caddy on a clumsy stand'. Despite this, it became a popular design for Morris & Co.and was advertised in the firm's catalogue c.1912, priced at 98 guineas for a version with decorative marquetry or at 60 guineas for plainer examples.



Other examples of the cabinet were acquired by Lawrence Hodson of Compton Hall (owner of the St. George's Cabinet), by W.K.d'Arcy for Stanmore Hall and by the Christie family for Tapeley Hall, Devon (two slightly different versions still in situ, 1994). The example acquired by Ralph Radcliffe-Whitehead for his American Arts and Crafts community is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.



Another example of the cabinet was bought from Morris & Co. in 1908 for 98 guineas by Theodora, wife of the 4th Marquess of Bristol, for Ickworth. This example, which had been on loan at Ickworth, was accepted in lieu of inheritance tax in 2005, and allocated to the National Trust.



Some of the surviving examples of the cabinet include a number following the firm's name and address stamped on the edge of the fall front. The V&A cabinet is stamped 1147, the version in the Philadelphia Museum 664, and the one at Ickworth 1581. If these numbers were used consecutively, it suggests that the V&A cabinet may have been made shortly before the Ickworth example in 1908.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This cabinet combines several functions. The fall front opens to provide a writing surface with compartments for papers above. The cupboards on either side provide storage space. The shaped top lifts up on brass quadrants (supports) to reveal a velvet-lined tray, possibly used for the display of medals or coins.

Historical Associations
This cabinet was first shown at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1889 where mixed reviews included the comment that it looked like an 'exaggerated inlaid tea-caddy on a clumsy stand'. Despite this it became quite a popular design for Morris & Co., the company owned by William Morris. It was still available around 1912 in the firm's catalogue, priced at 98 guineas for a version with decorative marquetry, or at 60 guineas for plainer examples.

People
George Jack supplied furniture design for Morris & Co. from about 1880 and succeeded Philip Webb as chief furniture designer from 1890. He favoured the use of native timbers and the revival of marquetry techniques to embellish furniture, as this piece illustrates.

Materials & Making
Morris & Co. took over the Pimlico workshops of Holland & Co., a large well-established firm of cabinet-makers, in about 1890.This cabinet illustrates the technical expertise and quality of the workmanship associated with experienced cabinet-makers.
Bibliographic References
  • Wilk, Christopher, ed. . Western Furniture 1350 to the Present Day. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996. 230p., ill. ISBN 085667463X.
  • Livingstone, Karen & Parry, Linda (eds.), International Arts and Crafts, London : V&A Publications, 2005p.48
  • Edward Joy, The Country Life Book of English Furniture. London: Country Life Ltd., 1964, illus. fig.110
  • Jervis, Simon, Victorian and Edwardian decorative art: the Handley-Read collection, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1972
  • Elizabeth Aslin, Nineteenth Century English Furniture (London, Faber, 1962), plate 117.
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.40:1 to 10-1953

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record createdJanuary 31, 2000
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