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Exhibit Of 18th Century Furniture
( Article orginally published June 1957 )
A groub of handsome English 18th century furniture recently acquired for The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been put on special exhibition in the Great Hall.
The major acquisition is a magnificent mahogany cabinet, or clothespress, of about 1780. Shown with this are a gracefullv proportioned armchair of about 1750, and an urn and pedestal after a design by Robert Adam, the prolific genius who created whole houses, inside and out, as versatile architect and designer.
The finely figured mahogany of the cabinet and the carving of its oval camtouches and scrolls are characteristic of William Vile, cabinetmaker for King George III and Queen Charlotte. Some of his furniture is still in the collections of the British Royal Family at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The intemior of the cabinet is designed for the storage of clothes or household linen. The exterior drawers are false, and it opens by means of two doors. The cabinet, which came from the collection of the Earl of Strathmore, was purchased by the Museum from the Morris Loeb Gift Fund.
Strong, graceful proportions and delicacy of carved line distinguish the armchair which is from the collections of Viscount Leverhulm,e and William Randolph Hearst. Six side chairs from the same set are shown in the Museum's Lansdowne Room. In extent and quality it would be difficult to match this set of chairs of the middle of the 18th century. They are a gift to the Museum from Judge Irwin Untermeyer.
The urn and pedestal, one of a pair acquired for the Museum also through the Morris Loeb Gift Fund dates from about 1780. It belongs to a set of dining-room furniture published in the January issue of the Museum's Bulletin, in an article by James Parker, Assistant Curator in the Department of Post-Renaissance Art.
Pairs of urns and Pedestals were a practical part of late 18th century dining-rooms, used by servants during meals. The urns held water for drinking or for washing silverware, while the pedestals contained wine bottles or a plate-warming apparatus. The source for the Museum's pedestals was an engraving in "The Works in Architecture of Robert & James Adam," 1774. They will be appropriately shown in the Museum's dining-room from Lansdowne House, London, designed by Adam and built between 1765 and 1768. The Lansdowne Room was installed at the Museum and opened to the public in 1954.