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Dressoir (sideboard)

  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly Lyon, made)

  • Date:

    1550-1600 (made)
    1840-90 (restored)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On display at Turton Tower, Bolton []

An imposing two or three-stage sideboard (known in France as a 'dressoir') was, along with the cabinet, the most important piece of furniture in 16th-century France and the Netherlands. They were designed to stand against a wall, and are usually of architectural form in walnut (as here) or oak, with high quality joinery and elaborate carved ornaments of classical origin such as strapwork, masks, pilasters and fantasy beasts. Such pieces would have stood in richly-decorated apartments used for entertaining, as show-pieces in their own right, but also dressed with silver plate and luxury textiles on special occasions.

With their rich carving and associations of courtly, renaissance lifestyles, such pieces appealed greatly to 19th and early 20th century collectors, who usually had the rare surviving examples heavily restored if this work had not already been done by dealer. Many others were probably actually created in the 19th century. This example has been repaired, especially at the base, and it appears to be missing its cresting, but in many respects it appears to be substantially original, and therefore an important survival. As yet, little is known of its history before it came to the Museum in 1891, but the design of the carved front and the use of walnut are sometimes associated with Lyon.

On long term loan to Turton Tower, Bolton.

Physical description

Walnut dressoir (sideboard), consisting of a rectangular upper section with carved ornament, on a raised stand with two drawers, on carved bracket supports and a moulded plinth.

The upper, cupboard section has a flat top with long mortices along the back edge for the cresting which is not currently displayed with the cupboard. It has a stepped, moulded cornice and similar plinth, between which are twin cupboard doors, each carved with a low relief strapwork panel with central cherub mask and flanked by two fluted pilasters, with a central muntin with low relief scrollwork. Each side has a panel with a circle within a square, the circle and its four spandrel panels in low relief against the ground. The interior has a central partition divider and both comparements are lined with red felt (19t century date). (The underside of the upper section not examined, Nov. 2011.)

The upper section of the stand contains two drawers above a series of mouldings with two pendant turnings at the corners. The drawer fronts are carved with lobed ornament which continues around both sides of the cabinet; at the outer corners and on the central, fixed drawer divider is a stylised acanthus leaf motif. The drawers in walnut throughout(?), the sides joined to the extended fronts with a sliding dovetail, and dovetailed to the backs, the bottoms (with several boards grained laterally) sitting in grooves ploughed in the fronts, sides and backs. The drawers are supported on twin, carved console brackets with stylised lion paw feet, and a panelled backboard, with two panels separated by a fluted pilaster. The two panels are carved with a circle within a square, the circle and its four spandrel panels in low relief against the ground. These stand on a modern plinth with deep concave moulding and turned finials at the front corners, which rests on two turned feet (at the front). The console brackets are shallow carved on both sides with a raised band in the form of a C-scroll linked to a circle, and on their front edge with guilloche ornament. The paw foot is carved with four parallel 'claws'.

Cresting (described from photograph)
The cresting consists of a plain walnut panel within moulded framework, on a full-width plain foot. It has two protruding tenons on its underside.

Modifications, presumed to date from c1850-90
Drawers probably rebuilt on original drawer fronts. Both doors rehung on new hinges over the original ones, and with replacement locks.
Restorations to the cornice. The stand substantially rebuilt using the original back uprights (with the lower 45cm sections replaced), the right console bracket possibly restored and the left probably replaced, with new pendants turnings, plinth and finials, new panels (but the bottom rail original). (The table top not examined Nov. 2011)

Place of Origin

France (possibly Lyon, made)


1550-1600 (made)
1840-90 (restored)


Height: 142.5 cm, Width: 139 cm base, Width: 134 cm cornice, Depth: 54 cm base, Depth: 50 cm cornice

Object history note

Bought from the Hailstone collection for £120. 15s (auctioned in London, Feb. 1891, lot 152)
RF 55/2298 (Christies, 1878-97). The sum of £1000 was set apart by the Museum for purchases 'if procurable at moderate prices'. The purchases included a renaissance buffet, silverware, ceramics, brasswork, carvings, a chair (lot 832), leatherwork (lots 1162-1166 and 1171

Edward Hailstone (1818-91) was a solicitor, and lover of archaeology and antiques, who lived at Walton Hall near Wakefield (Yorkshire) from 1871 until his death. He is said to have had large collections of English and continental furniture, books and prints.

http://www.jss.org.uk/cw/Walton_Park/edward-hailstone.htm, consulted 22/12/2011

On loan to Oakwell Hall, Batley 1955. On loan to Turton Tower from c1989.

Historical context note

Comparable pieces
Dressoir M17 138.5 x 96.5 x 41cm (attrib Lyon 1550-75) in Wolfram Koeppe: Die Lemmers-Danforth-Sammlung Wetzlar. Europäische Wohnkultur aus Renaissance und Barock. (Heidelberg, 1992), p.84

Descriptive line

Walnut dressoir (sideboard) with an upper cupboard with carved front and sides, on an open stand with two drawers, supported on carved brackets. French 1550-1600


Walnut; Felt


Carving; Turning


Furniture; Renaissance (French); Containers; Medieval and renaissance


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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