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Dressing table with opening top, ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly
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Dressing table with opening top


Museum number: XF24

Curatorial note

This table was not part of Soane's collection.

It was one of a number of pieces of furniture belonging to the first Curator, George Bailey, which were acquired by the Trustees.

In 1849, twelve years after Soane’s death, George Bailey reported to the Trustees that ‘when he entered on the duties of his Office in January 1837 …. there being but little disposable Furniture in the House adapted to its new appropriation and no funds then available to provide such, he had at his own expense supplied some Chairs, a Table, Bookcases and other Articles required to render the Apartment habitable, together with a Wardrobe and certain other articles in his Bed Chamber and submitted that should the several things enumerated in the Inventory now laid before the Trustees, and which were valued by Messrs Herring & Co. at £67.4.0, be considered by them as suitable and proper … that allowance should be made to him .. and that they should become the property of the Trustees’.

The Trustees resolved to accept Baileys’ furniture and a list was appended to the Furniture and Fittings inventory of 1837, including the valuations.

This table appears in the list of items for use in the Curator's Sitting Room and is described as ‘A Mahogany sofa Table on claws & rising top’ and valued at £4.

It is an intriguing piece which has in the past been referred to as an ‘artists table’. It is in fact probably a dressing table, which at first glance appears to be a conventional mahogany Pembroke table with two flaps: the central section of the top lifts up to reveal a series of compartments within.

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