Monday, 16 September 2013

Behind closed drawers in the Red Room

For last week’s Conservation in Action, Michelle and I focused on the furniture in the Red Room. This gave our visitors a chance to see inside some of the wonderful pieces that we have in the collection, which are usually closed up.
The Red Room contains two sofa tables, both of English origin and made during the 19th century.

Open view of the sofa table. The central drawers are on a spring so that when the table is opened they can pop up. You can also just see the glass and silver inkwells that sit inside the desk.

A close-up of the sofa table when the writing desk is lifted.

A second sofa table that turns into a games table. The two side panels fold out and the central panel slides out and has a chess board on the reverse, which can be fitted as in the picture above.

Underneath the central panel is a backgammon board.

Two fantastic pieces of Boulle work furniture also feature; a bureau-plat and a sarcophagus-shaped commode.

This bureau-plat (writing table) is a 19th century copy of a regency-style table. Veneered in ebony, it is inlaid with Boulle work and tortoiseshell. It was purchased by the 2nd Lord Leconfield after the 1882 Hamilton Palace sale where the London dealer Colnaghi’s had bought it for £300.

This commode (chest of drawers) is dated to around 1710 and can firmly be attributed as original Boulle work. Two commodes feature at Versailles which are virtually identical and are the only surviving pieces of furniture known to have been made by Boulle himself. The Red Room commode was purchased by the 2nd Lord Leconfield from Colnaghi, after the Hamilton Palace sale in 1882, where this commode fetched the then enormous sum of £1081:10s.

Detail of the winged creatures which feature on the corners of the commode.

Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732)
Boulle was Louis XIV’s official ébéniste (cabinet maker) who gave his name to the technique of metal inlaid wood and tortoiseshell furniture. Find out more about him and his work at the Palace Of Versailles here.

There are plenty of other examples of the Boulle technique around Petworth, including other commodes, cabinets, desks and clocks.

Conservation Assistant

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