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The Nostell Priory Medal Cabinet - 1767

workshop of Thomas Chippendale (Otley 1718 - London 1779)

Category

Furniture

Date

1767 (invoiced and in correspondence)

Materials

Mahogany, some of the drawers lined in oak, gilt brass and glass

Measurements

213.5 x 99 cm

Place of origin

St. Martin's Lane

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Collection

Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, North, National Trust

NT 959788

Summary

A mahogany built-in library and medal cabinet, English, 1767, made by Thomas Chippendale (1718 - 1799) for the library at Nostell Priory. Built into a blind door recess and headed by a cove centred by a fluted lidded urn trailing a garland, and with egg and dart-carved edge and husk-carved ribs. The façade breakfront and curved and its upper section topped by a fluted frieze and centred by an arch-glazed lockable door enclosing eighteen graduated small drawers, its pedestal embellished with scrolls and garlands. Flanked to either side by banks of eight short drawers. The lower section with further paneled and beaded cupboard doors and drawers. This distinguished cabinet is in very good condition, having been concealed behind a library door since it was installed. First mentioned in accounts on 30th June 1767 as 'To a very neat mahogany Cabinet with drawers and a medall case, with a Glass door to ditto elegantly ornamented with carv'd work and made to fit in to the recess of a blanck door £38 10s 0'. In a note of some works to be done, which were compiled before 12th August 1767, 'Stain for the Cabinet in the Library' is mentioned and on 13th August 1767 Chippendale wrote to Sir Rowland that 'I have this day sent to the fly...the bottle of red stain for the meddal case. Please to let the man scrape the Oil of the place to be stain'd very clean and then lay on the stain, if not dark enough at first repeat it twice or there times.' Last mentioned in a list of September 1768 - probably a record of work which was completed or installed - as 'a Mahogany medal case'. One of many pieces of Chippendale furniture which survive in their original position in the library at Nostell, an interior of which Sir Rowland was hugely proud and which he commemorated in a painting - originally intended to hang at 11 St. James's Square - commissioned in the same year that the desk was delivered. Painted by Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739 - 1808), the picture shows an idealised version of the Library, its width doubled to create a well-proportioned composition. However, he accurately recorded its fittings and original decoration, as well as the famous Chippendale desk [NT 959723]. -- Thomas Chippendale (1718 - 1779) worked at Nostell - probably at the recommendation of Robert Adam - between 1766 and his death in 1779, although his firm continued his work there until Sir Rowland Winn's death in 1785. Sir Rowland availed himself of Chippendale's complete house-furnishing service, and his pieces survive throughout the house. Chippendale not only made some of the finest furniture of the day [i.e. the library table NT 959723 and clothes press NT 959763] for Nostell, but also supplied more mundane, household goods - an elm chopping block [NT 959345], for instance - not usually associated with his name, and probably not made in his workshop. Chippendale sent workmen to hang wallpaper, fix pelmets and curtains, clean beds, install blinds and repair furniture, and sub-contracted some of the gilding and upholstery work.. The Adam/Chippendale interiors at Nostell Priory are some of the best preserved and the large archive of related correspondence, bills and accounts mean that it is one of the best documented. Papers span the period 1766 - 1785, although the later half of the period is less well covered, and only began to be better understood when new letters came to light in the late 1980s. Until then, there was a long silence in the records between October 1771 and April 1778. The decoration of the Salon and Drawing Room appears to have been completed about 1775 - Adam's design for the pier tables is dated to that year - but the furnishings of both rooms were still the subject of exasperated correspondence in 1781. Pieces for these rooms were still unfinished, or being stored in London, when Sir Rowland died in February 1785.

Provenance

Purchased by Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet, and referred to in accounts on 30th June 1767. Thence by descent until accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of death duties on the estate of Rowland Winn, 4th Baron Oswald (1916 - 1984), 1986.

Makers and roles

workshop of Thomas Chippendale (Otley 1718 - London 1779) , cabinet maker

References

Boynton and Goodison, 1968: Lindsay Boynton, and Nicholas Goodison. “Thomas Chippendale at Nostell Priory.” Furniture History 4 (1968): pp.10-61., pp. 17 - 18,19 - 22 and 43 Boynton and Goodison, 1969: Lindsay Boynton and Nicholas Goodison. “The furniture of Thomas Chippendale at Nostell Priory.” Burlington Magazine III June 1969: pp.350-60., p. 352 Gilbert (1978): Christopher Gilbert, The Life & Work of Thomas Chippendale (1978), 2 volumes., Vol. I, p. 170, 185 and Vol. II, Figure 99

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