Members may be interested to know of the forthcoming two-day conference ‘Grinling Gibbons and the Story of Carving’ which will be held on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June 2022. Details for booking may be found on the V&A website where a link to the draft programme may also be found.
Speakers currently scheduled include: Ada de Wit ,Curator of Works of Art and Sculpture at the Wallace Collection, London; David Luard of Luard Conservation; Alan Lamb, formerly of City and Guilds of London Art School, and Head of the Historic Carving Department; Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London; Dr Gordon Higgott, independent architectural historian; Dr Kira d’Alburquerque, Curator of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Dr Lee Prosser, curator – historic buildings at Historic Royal Palaces; Nick Humphrey, Curator of the Furniture Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Dr Jonathan Tavares, Curator, Applied Arts of Europe Department, Art Institute of Chicago; Lisa Ackerman, Associate Conservator, Art Institute of Chicago; Dr Tessa Murdoch FSA, independent scholar; Professor Lauren R. Cannady, University of Maryland; Wendy Frère, doctoral student, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)/Fondation Périer-D’Ieteren; Maria Cristina Gigli, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Firenze; and Sandra Rossi, Director, Painting Department and Wooden Sculpture Department, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Firenze.
RFS may be interested to learn that the National Museum of Ireland’s full collection of ‘Sligo’ chair or ‘Tuam’ chairs is on display for the first time. An online symposium has been organised at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday 19th February 2022. Participants include Claudia Kinmonth, Laura Mays, Stephen Jackson and David Jones.
More information about the symposium may be found here. More information about the exhibition (including a short video) may be found here. RFS members who wish to register free for the symposium must book via Eventbrite.
We are delighted to invite RFS members to a unique preview of the newly refurbished Burrell Collection, Glasgow, due to reopen this March having been closed for many years. The re-ordered museum will create a much-improved display and interpretation of the collection of over 500 furniture items donated in 1944 by Glaswegian shipping magnate and collector Sir William Burrell and his wife Constance. The collection includes English, Welsh, Scottish and continental pieces. Laura, Ed and Lindsay’s talk will offer a behind-the-scenes exploration of the Burrell by curators and conservators, revealing the new methods of interpretation developed for the displays of furniture within the galleries.
This event is for RFS members. To receive the link to the Zoom meeting, please apply to email@example.com by 16:00 Sunday 6th February. This event will not be available on YouTube for future viewing.
Please note that we are now fully subscribed for the Ercol factory visit but are able to offer places to those wishing to join us for lunch and at the Wycombe Chair Museum and an afternoon devoted to their collection. The fee is the same (£20) since Ercol are kindly not charging us.
Following his recent well-received on-line talk to the RFS: Witwerk – The History of Dutch Painted Furniture, Hans Piena, curator of the Open Air Museum at Arnhem (Nederlands Openluchtmuseum) will talk via Zoom about the diary he discovered some years ago in a safe on a farm, which he has just successfully published in Holland. It is the story of a lonely boy of two poor Dutch charcoal makers living in the middle of nowhere. He falls in love with the only daughter of the richest farmer in the village and after many years of courtship marries her and slowly climbs the ladder of society to become a council member and church minister. The diary, which took many specialists eight years to decipher, records not only every day’s purchases including the furniture he ordered, but also gives a good picture of his business contacts and even his coded musings on his love life. Finally we will learn about his son who became a furniture maker, some of whose pieces survive.
This event is for RFS members: if you would like to receive the link to the Zoom meeting, please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are very sorry to announce the death on 16 November 2021 of our former Chairman, Chris Pickvance, aged 77. Chris’s funeral will take place on 8 December 2021, at 2:40pm, at the Barham Crematorium, Canterbury Road (A260), Barham, Nr Canterbury, Kent CT4 6QU; 8.5 miles from Canterbury. It will be webcast, at the family’s request, so that people who cannot attend in person can follow it: the funeral will last 30-40 minutes. Members who wish to view the webcast are asked to email email@example.com for the link.
Katy Pickvance would like to ask anyone who can, please, to donate in Chris’s name and memory to the Pilgrims Hospice, Canterbury because it is an incredible place for ‘end of life care’, and needs help to continue its work.
Chris was really quite a private person and although many of us in the RFS spent many hours on study trips and in meetings with him, few I think were able to get very close to him. His sudden and tragic death from oesophagus cancer, which we learn from his family was only discovered in September this year, has left us feeling deprived of someone who contributed enormously to the Society, partly as Chairman over the last 10 years and perhaps more significantly as an expert in medieval chests.
This particular line of research grew from a more general interest in medieval and Renaissance furniture and woodwork both in Britain and on the Continent. He led two wonderful study trips to France in 2005 and 2011, the first to Brittany and the second to Paris and Burgundy. Both were made special by his knowledge of the places, furniture and scholars we would encounter. His personal study of medieval chests led him to many discoveries about these often neglected ancient relics, tucked away in the corners of churches. By careful observation of structural details, decorative carving and the ironwork of locks and straps, coupled with dendrochronology and diligent comparison with the work of scholars abroad, he has tentatively reached a new level of understanding about their origins and their place in medieval society. As an academic, he was comfortable with the processes of publishing in peer-reviewed journals and lecturing to knowledgeable audiences. His central research on chests is published in two articles, the first, ‘”Kentish Gothic” or imported? Understanding a group of early fifteenth century tracery-carved medieval chests in Kent and Norfolk’, Archaeologia Cantiana, vol. 138 (2017); and the second, ‘The Canterbury group of arcaded gothic early medieval chests: a dendrochronological and comparative study’, The Antiquaries Journal, vol. 98 (2018). He also published numerous articles and reports in the RFS Newsletter, which give insights into his broad understanding of the diversity of regional furniture. He was a keen advocate of the Society’s Research in Progress Days, and in 2018 organised a memorable day of lectures on 16th century furniture. In March this year he organised ‘New Thinking about Medieval Furniture’, an online conference presenting current research from a variety of perspectives. The event was free and attracted many non-members across Europe and America. Shortly before his death Chris made a very generous donation of £10,000 to the Society to fund bursaries for research into medieval chests, thus ensuring that his studies will be continued by others, and extended across a wider geographical range than he was able to cover. Increasing people’s awareness of the significance of such objects is surely the best way to see that they are properly taken care of and treasured in the way that they deserve.
Chris was quietly unassuming, never one to step easily into the limelight, but he led the Society well during his chairmanship, reinforcing its purposes in research and publishing, and overseeing a tightening of policies and governance which will stand us in good stead for many years to come. He has left an indelible legacy, and we will always be grateful for that, and we will remember him fondly both as a friend and fellow traveller in the study of regional furniture.
David Dewing President, Regional Furniture Society
RFS members are kindly invited by the FHS to ‘In the Richest and Most Costly Style’: Furnishing Goldsmiths’ Hall, 1834-5 by Michael Shrive (Assistant Curator at Waddesdon Manor), Sunday, 28 November 2021, 19.00 (BST), 14.00 (ED).
Home to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, the Goldsmiths’ Hall in the heart of the City of London was designed by Philip Hardwick (1792-1870) and opened to great acclaim in 1835. The third building of its kind on the site, Hardwick also designed many of the furnishings and employed Thomas and George Seddon and William and Charles Wilkinson to execute the work. Despite some wartime losses, much of the furniture survives in situ and remains in use to the present day. It is also one of the best documented commissions of its time, supplemented by a comprehensive archive including estimate sketchbooks, scale drawings and a complete series of accounts. This lecture will highlight previously unpublished material relating to the commission.
Michael Shrive is Assistant Curator at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire (National Trust / Rothschild Collections) and currently sits on the Furniture History Society’s Events Committee. He recently contributed to the publications Jean-Henri Riesener: Cabinetmaker to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (2020) and Furniture History (2019). In 2016 he graduated with an MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors from the University of Buckingham and his dissertation topic was the furnishing of Goldsmiths’ Hall. Formerly he was Curatorial Intern of Decorative Arts at Royal Collection Trust and also worked on the National Trust’s Furniture Research and Cataloguing Project.
This lecture is free to members. Non-members wishing to attend can pay for £5 for tickets here.
Attendees will be admitted from a waiting room from 18.45. Please make sure you are muted and your camera turned off. Please note that for security reasons we will lock the meeting at 19.20, so make sure you have joined us by then.
We hope to see many of you on Sunday, 28 November.
The Geffrye Museum has undergone a number of re-inventions over the 90 years since its foundation as a museum devoted to the furniture industry in what was then the most heavily populated and deprived district of London.
It has just emerged from a major expansion with a new name: The Museum of the Home, which reflects its evolution from a museum devoted to furniture, to a broader remit revealing the way we live, and to reflect what home means to people of different backgrounds, circumstances, and cultures.
On arrival visitors first explore the new subterranean rooms with arresting displays before ascending to the familiar run of period rooms on the ground floor which will be decorated for the Winter Festival as celebrated by different cultures in London – Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas Past.
An early curator of the Geffrye was Marjorie Quennell who believed that children would be inspired by learning our social history rather than the dates of monarchs and battles. Between 1918 and 1934 she published a series of books Everyday Things in England 1066-1900 illustrated by her architect husband. The series remained in print until 2000. There is a small display in the museum about the Quennells whose illustrations perhaps influenced some of the delightful new murals on the ground floor of the museum. The museum is more than ever a great experience for children and adults alike.
We are invited to arrive from 11:00 with an un-guided tour of the public galleries. We may lunch across the courtyard at Molly’s Café housed in a former Victorian pub and regroup at 14:00 when The MoTH’s curator Louis Platman will present a ‘Round Britain” selection from the 40 chairs of the Cotton collection, many familiar from Bill Cotton’s books but out of sight for many years.
The visit is limited to just 10 RFS members since we will be entering non-public areas. There is no charge. Applications by email to Jeremy Bate either to his private email or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Places will be allocated in order of receipt.
Now that’s a proper castle. Members may be interested in the next forthcoming tour from Wessex Fine Art Study Courses in June 2022, organised by Barbara Peacock. Led by Dr David Jones, the tour will be based in Aberdeenshire and Moray.
A taster of the architectural delights:
Foremost must be the great concentration of romantic turreted tower houses, dating from mediaeval times to the 16th century and known for their excitingly varied silhouettes and their rich Renaissance plasterwork and painted ceilings. Such are Crathes, Craigievar, Fyvie and Monymusk, built by the great Scottish lairds of the period. The tower theme continues into the early 18th-century with the dramatic Baroque splendour of William Adam’s Duff House, and in the 19th century is revived in the castellated Gothic of Gillespie Graham’s Drumtochty Castle and Archibald Simpson’s superbly sited Castle Forbes. By contrast, William Adam’s Haddo House (1732) is a restrained classical Palladian country house, with Adam Revival interiors furnished by the important Victorian firm of Wright and Mansfield.
The Regional Furniture Society was delighted to present a Zoom lecture by Hans Piena, Conservator of the Dutch Open Air Museum, Arnhem on Wednesday, 7th April at 18:00 hrs GMT on ‘The History of Dutch Painted Furniture. The lecture is now available on the RFS YouTube channel.