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The South Kensington Museum



The house of Fourdinois no longer exists; the names of the foremost makers of French meubles de luxe, in Paris, of this time were Beurdely, Dasson, Roux, Sormani, Durand, and Zwiener. Some mention has already been made of Zwiener. as the maker of a famous bureau in the Hertford Collection (This Collection, now better known as the Wallace Collection, has been bequeathed to the Nation.), and a sideboard exhibited by Durand in the '51 Exhibition is amongst the illustrations selected as representative of cabinet work at that time.

The illustration of Wright and Mansfield's satin-wood cabinet, with Wedgwood placques inserted, and with wreaths and swags of marqueterie inlaid, is in the Adams' style, a class of design of which this firm made a spécialité. Both Wright and Mansfield had been assistants at Jackson and Graham's, and after a short term in Great Portland Street, they removed to Bond Street, and carried on a successful business of a high class and somewhat exclusive character, until their retirement some years ago. This cabinet was exhibited in Paris in 1867, and was purchased by our South Kensington authorities. Perhaps it is not generally known that a grant is made to the Department for the purchase of suitable specimens of furniture and woodwork for the Museum. This expenditure is made with great care and discrimination. It may be observed here that the South Kensington Museum, which was founded in 1851, was, at the time of which we are writing, playing an important part in the Art education of the country. The literature of the day also contributed many useful works of instruction and reference for the designer of furniture and woodwork.

The work of Mr. Bruce J. Talbert deserves mention here, and should not have been omitted in the first edition. His designs for furniture, conceived on the basis of modified Gothic, adapted to modern requirements, were appreciated by a considerable following; and the dining room and library furniture especially, made from his drawings, stand the test of time. He published a book of designs in 1868, entitled " Gothic Forms applied to Furniture, Metal Work, and Decoration for Domestic Purposes," and, subsequently, in 1876, " Examples of Ancient and Modern Furniture, Tapestries, Metal Work, Decoration, &c." In this latter work he reproduced several of his drawings, which had been exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1870 and five following years; and he compiled a reference table of the dates when the various periods of architecture came in, with marginal notes, which will be found very useful to the reader in connection with our subject. We have, by permission of Mr. Talbert's publisher (Mr. Batsford, of Holborn), been able to give here a full-page illustration of part of a design for a dining room, from his Academy drawing of 1870, which will convey a fair idea of the character of his work. Talbert made designs for furniture exhibited in Paris in 1867, one of which, that of a Sideboard, made by Gillows, was purchased for the South Kensington Museum. Shortly before his death he turned his attention to Renaissance designs.



















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