Illustrated, Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture, The British Tradition, Woodbridge, 1979, p. 338, fig. 3.
The joiner-cabinet maker has clearly looked towards architectural motifs when creating this mural cupboard. The squared pentagon shape with its triangular pediment is bold and contrasts with the naively but finely worked tracery to each door. Chinnery (op. cit. p. 338) writes, 'The Informal Gothic tracery of this delightful cupboard suggests that the design may have been loosely copied by the maker from a fine window in his parish church'.
The charming fretwork to each door was not solely a decorative device but was also practical, providing ventilation to the food stuffs stored within. It would have been hung to avoid vermin, hence the term mural cupboard. There is an account of furnishings and decorations written around 1649 by the heraldist Randle Holme III. Holme lists and illustrates types of furnishings and their purpose within the home, as well as the room in which they might be found. There is a hanging food cupboard illustrated as no. 89. and to be found in 'The Chamber' , the accompanying description is as follows '...an arke or safe: a kind of little house made of wood, and covered with haire cloth, and so by two rings hung in the middle of a Rome, thereby to secure all things put therein from the cruelty of devouring Rats, mice, Weesels, and such kind of Vermine... [sic]' Randle Holme III, Academie of Armoury, c.1649, ed. I. H Jeayes, London, 1905.
These cupboards, when compared to other types of furniture of the period, are often elaborate and exuberantly worked. They must have been seen as status symbols and indicators not only of an owner's wealth but of contemporary design itself. Sotheby's has been fortunate to have recently offered two other very fine examples, again in good condition; The Age of Oak and Walnut, these rooms, 28th September 2004, lot 61 and The Age of Oak and Walnut, these rooms, 14th September 2005, lot 32.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale