An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations
Lot 179TP
An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations
£ 60,000 - 80,000
US$ 78,000 - 100,000

Lot Details
An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations
An impressive Henry VIII joined oak and walnut livery cupboard, circa 1530, with restorations
The front following a traditional arrangement for enclosed livery cupboards dated to the first-half of the 16th century - divided into three horizontal sections or registers - the top centred by a 'Romayne'-type profile bust of a male, wearing a feathered cap, his arm dressed in a slashed and puffed sleeve drawn towards his face, within a carved wreath and with leaf-and-berry spandrels, flanked by a pair of boarded doors, both carved with a climbing flowering plant (possibly hops), and one with a pair of birds resting in the branches, the middle-section with a pair of drawers, each drawer front carved (including under-cut carving) with tracery roundels spaced by leaves and berries, a cupboard door below carved with intricate Celtic knots, and repeated flower terminals and strawberries, flanked to the left by a panel carved overall with tracery quatrefoils centred by a flower, and to the right by a panel carved with swirling foils spaced by leaves-and-berries, all nine carved elements having the same carved rope border, all front rails guilloche-carved, each side with three fine linenfold-carved panels, all positioned horizontally and thereby overlooking the original intention to simulate hanging cloth, but still retaining delicately punched-decorated ends and a suggestion of rings for the cloth to run on a rail, an impressive panelled back, on extended stile supports, 153cm wide x 48.5cm deep x 132.5cm high, (60in wide x 19in deep x 52in high)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Sotheby's, 'Catalogue of Good English Oak Furniture and Treen', London, 14 May 1982, Lot 32

    Purchased on the advice of the late Victor Chinnery, the respected author of Oak Furniture: The British Tradition (2016)

    Exhibited:
    The Merchant's House, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2004-2018

    The rarity of this high-status cupboard is enhanced by the presence of drawers. Drawers were seldom found on late 15th to early 16th century English furniture. Furthermore, they are normally comparatively crude, with the drawer simply running on the base-board, or supported either on carcase rails and/or a simple under-bearer. Here, however, the drawers which appear to be original, are supported not only by the frame, but importantly by the edges of their base boards. Both drawer side linings are inset, allowing the base-board edges to be exposed and engaged within grooved drawer runners fitted to the frame of the cupboard. This method of construction allows for smooth operation of the drawers.

    For related early 16th century English cupboards, having a similar three-level arrangement of drawers, fixed-panels and cupboard doors, see: Murray Adams-Acton, Apollo, 'Early Oak cupboards and Hutches', May 1933, pp. 181 - 186. The Burrell Collection, Glasgow, has no less than six comparable cupboards. Two of them have linenfold panelled sides [Museum Nos. 14.416 & 14.425], one has pierced cupboard doors [museum no. 14.417], and another has similar tracery carving [Museum No. 14.417]. The remaining two cupboards are both highly celebrated examples - one [museum no. 14.413] is illustrated in Murray Adams-Acton, Domestic Architecture and Old Furniture (1929), p. 46a, fig. 82a and again in Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture (1986), Vol. II, p. 184. The other, known simply as the 'Wynn Cupboard' [Museum no. 14.436], has the addition of a canopy superstructure, but again with the same arrangement of cupboards and drawers. It was made for John Wyn ap Maredudd (d. 1550), of Gwydir Castle, Conwy Valley, around 1525-1545. This cupboard is illustrated in Percy Macquoid, A History of English Furniture: The Age of Oak (1925), colour plate III, and also in Richard Bebb, Welsh Furniture 1250 - 1950: A Cultural History of Craftsmanship and Design (2007) Vol. I. p. 202, pl. 325. A cupboard carved with Romayne profile busts is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, [Museum No. W.11-1986]. One further example, but only a cupboard front, is in the collection of Cotehele House, Cornwall, [NT347771], illustrated ibid. p. 161. Apart from the Cotehele cupboard front all of these listed examples have plain or simple scratch-moulded frames. It is unusual to find carved framing rails. However, it is not without precedent, and examples of early 16th century English pieces of furniture with guilloche-carved framing rails are known. See for example a coffer, dated to circa 1510-20, with double guilloche-carved front rails and stiles, illustrated in Michael Dann, The English Smile (2005), pp. 17 - 23 [no.3]. Guilloche carving is also present on two early 16th century English chairs in this sale, see Lots 10 and 263.

    Although this cupboard's various carved front designs initially appear remarkably diverse (whilst taking into account the matched drawers, and similar treatment to the upper doors) an overall unity is present. Each panel, door and drawer front are framed by the same wrythen or rope border. Without question the profile portrait panel is the most eye-catching panel. Although there is an element missing from his raised hand, he is clearly holding something to his mouth or nose, and was probably, therefore intended to be emblematic of either taste or smell, an allegorical reference appropriate for a food cupboard.
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