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image Image 1 for XF97
image Image 2 for XF97
Cupboard, XF97, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century, deal grained to resemble mahogany and painted in imitation of porphyry; ivory discs and brass fittings. Shown with door closed. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly
  • image Image 1 for XF97
  • image Image 2 for XF97

Cupboard, grained and painted deal, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century

Deal grained to resemble mahogany and painted in imitation of porphyry; ivory discs and brass fittings

Height (central section): 147cm
Width (central section): 63.5cm
Depth (central section): 77cm
Height (side section): 138.5cm
Width (side section): 66cm
Depth (side section): 86cm

Museum number: XF97

Curatorial note

Re-using eighteenth century moulded panels, in three sections; the door to the central section taller and with flush reeded central panel; the doors to the cupboards either side with applied late seventeenth or eighteenth-century egg-and-dart pattern bolection mouldings bordered by narrow vertical rectangular sunk panels with bead and leaf moulding; plain top edges to all three cupboards, the two to the side cupboards with a simple bead at the bottom edge (as on XF98); the centre and right-hand cupboard doors hinged on the right edge, the left-hand cupboard door hinged on the left edge; the two side doors have oval brass keyhole escutcheons; the central door has no escutcheon and the keyhole is unlined; the brass latches at the top of both side doors are later additions.

The right and left sections are numbered in white paint centre top against rectangular areas painted to resemble porphyry: 51-58 on the left-hand cupboard and 59-66 on the right-hand cupboard; the left-hand cupboard is numbered E in white paint below the panelling and the right-hand cupboard similarly E. At the top of the centre cupboard is an old inscription in black: Drawings by the late Mr Robert Adam; above and below this are modern inscriptions in white, E above and Publications below. The interiors of each of the three cupboards are fitted with eight deal drawers above an open cupboard; each drawer has two inset brass ring pull handles, the drawers to left-hand and right-hand cupboards are numbered in ascending order on small inset ivory discs, 51-58 in the left-hand cupboard 59-66 in the right-hand cupboard. The inset brass ring handles match those used on other furniture made for Soane (see XF187, XF138, XF161 and XF1).

This cupboard and XF98 stood either side of the Colonnade at the time of Soane’s death as shown in plate XXVI in the 1835 Description. It was on the north side of the Colonnade, part of the furnishings of Soane’s Lower Office by c.1818 when it is shown in a watercolour view and a pencil drawing. It does not appear in views of Soane’s office when it was at the back of No. 12 prior to 1808-09 or on plans of the new Lower Office at the back of No. 13 dating from 1809-12.

This cupboard and XF98 seem to have previously been three separate cupboards; two with re-used bolection mouldings matching those on XF98 although not of the same dimensions and another taller cupboard with Soanean flush reed moulding to the door. The two side cupboards were probably part of the furnishings of Soane’s Lower Office, like XF98, and made c.1818. They must have been made at the same time as XF98 since all the drawers are made in an identical fashion – that is also true of the centre cupboard section of this cupboard and XF98. The two side cupboards of this cupboard and XF98 are presumably those shown, with this cupboard and XF98, on the plan published in Soane’s Description, 1830, plate 2, as two separate cupboards (there is no sign of the taller cupboard now between them) at the east end of the Colonnade. This arrangement is also shown on the plan published in the 1835 Description, although it seems likely that the cupboards were assembled into their current arrangement in 1833 when Soane bought the 54 volumes of Robert Adam drawings which were then stored in them. The view of the Colonnade published in 1835 shows them after alteration (as today). It is worth noting that This cupboard is jammed in between the columns on the south side of the Colonnade in a very awkward manner, which seems to imply that the central cupboard also came from somewhere else, rather than being manufactured specially for this position.

The seventeenth and eighteenth-century applied bolection mouldings on this cupboard and XF98 are of the same pattern but different widths. Many doors elsewhere in No. 13 have similar, seemingly eighteenth century, panels of applied moulding, as does one door on the staircase of No. 14, constructed in 1824-25.1 Peter Thornton believed that these ‘Kentian’ mouldings might have been retained by Soane from the demolition of Yarborough House at Chelsea in 1809. However, a panel with egg-and-dart bolection moulding is shown on the back of Soane’s No. 12 Office door in a watercolour of 1808 and his practice must have brought him numerous opportunities for salvage of such panels.

1 SM Vol. 83, 14 (Figure 55) and SM Vol. 83, 6: the latter confirms that it is a two door cupboard with reused panels on both doors which is shown.


J. Soane Description of the Residence of John Soane, Architect, London, 1835, p. 41

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