About this artwork
This drawing-room cabinet was conceived by Bruce James Talbert, a prolific designer in Victorian Britain who drew inspiration from such widely divergent sources as Gothic architecture and Japanese art. Like many of his colleagues in the second half of the 19th century, Talbert often wrestled with how to foster fine design and craftsmanship in the face of increasing industrialization and mechanization. He simplified and popularized the Gothic style first advocated by Augustus Pugin earlier in the century, and offered his designs to furniture manufacturers such as Gillow and Company of Lancaster, who made the Art Institute’s cabinet.
Talbert advocated honesty in construction and designed many pieces that combine a strongly rectilinear form with a refined sense of detail. Here, the carved Gothic elements of the perimeter of the sideboard provide the structure for delicate marquetry panels depicting abstract, geometrical designs and Japanese-inspired vases of flowers.
The cabinet was made for railroad magnate Sir James A. Ramsden, who commissioned it for his Gothic Revival mansion, Abbots Wood, in the northern English county of Cumbria. The central, arched crest displays the owner’s monogram JAR and inlaid ebony letters below spell out ABBOTSWOOD within squares of maple.
- Bruce James Talbert (Designer)
- Drawing Room Cabinet
- Walnut, ebony, boxwood, thuya, maple, and other woods, gilding, and lacquered brass mounts
- 148.6 × 166.4 × 52.1 cm (58 1/2 × 65 1/2 × 20 1/2 in.)
- Gift of the Antiquarian Society through the Mrs. Edgar J. Uihlein Fund