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image XF125
Hanging shelves, XF125 & XF126, English, unknown maker in the style of Thomas Chippendale, c.1760, mahogany, ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Gareth Gardner.

Hanging shelf, English, unknown maker in the style of Thomas Chippendale, c.1760


Height: 82cm
Width: 88cm
Depth: 18cm

Museum number: XF125

Curatorial note

One of a pair with XF126. For the display of china, with pierced fretwork combining Chinese and Gothic elements; the cresting in the form of chinoiserie railings with a Chinese pagoda at the centre; the upper shelves with pierced fretwork galleries of a Gothic pattern; the lower shelves with pierced fretwork galleries of foliate scrolling pattern; the fretwork sides to the shelves, each made in a number of sections, extend below the bottom shelves to form brackets; the fretwork ends of the top shelf are of a trellis pattern; those to the lower shelves are a combination of curved shapes.

These shelves are reminiscent of the hanging shelves for china published by Chippendale in the third edition of The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director, in 1761, plate 141, (an engraving dated 1761).1 The cresting may be inspired by Chippendale’s rather earlier ‘Chinese railing’ patterns, published in the first edition of the Director in 1754 but is rather freer, more rococo in style.2

These shelves were in Soane’s Dressing Room (or Bath Room) and, according to the Fixtures and Fittings list, were linked by ‘a mahogany shelf to connect the two racks’. They were used to display a large number of small-scale Chinese blue and white porcelain vessels similar to those shown in J. M. Gandy’s view of 1825 on the chimneypiece. These shelves are not shown in the view and it is possible that they were acquired after 1825 or hung elsewhere at that date. (the pictures and mirror shown had moved elsewhere by the end of Soane’s life).3

In 2015 the shelves were reinstated in their original positions in the recreated Bathroom as part of Phase 2 of Opening up the Soane.

1 P. Ward-Jackson, English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century, 1984, p.45, pl. 93
2 ibid, p.46, pl. 122.
3 Forty-seven items were displayed in Soane’s bathroom; two candle-sticks and forty-five pieces of china (of which 30 were Chinese blue and white).


R.W. Symonds, ‘Furniture in the Soane Museum’, Country Life, January 27 1950, p.223

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk