London's Victoria & Albert Museum has acquired a very fine medal cabinet.
Not a cabinet as in a "collection", but a cabinet as in a piece of furniture build to HOUSE a medal collection.
Thanks to Alan Luedeking for forwarding this.
Medal cabinet in the Egyptian taste
After a design attributed to Charles Percier (1764-1813)
Veneered with amboyna and mahogany and inlaid with engraved silver mounts by the firm of Martin Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843)
Made for someone in the circle of the Emperor Napoleon
We are delighted to have raised £534,000 in time to save this rare and remarkable medal cabinet from export.
The government placed a temporary export bar on the cabinet and we only had until July 2014 to acquire it and ensure its place in the national collections.
This medal cabinet is perhaps the finest piece of French Empire furniture in Britain today. It is also a superlative example of the Egyptian taste that was fashionable throughout Europe in the period 1800-1815. Newly minted medals, of the sort this cabinet would have stored, were a significant element of Napoleon’s propaganda and used to commemorate his major achievements.
The silver mounts were made by the firm Martin Guillaume Biennais, whose signature is engraved on the lockplate. Biennais, who may have made the cabinet in its entirety, was goldsmith to the Imperial family. There are few works by Biennais in Britain; these are limited to smaller travelling cases or metalwork and certainly include nothing of this size, design-historical importance or quality.
The cabinet’s architectural form and craftsmanship are striking. Its rich amboyna wood is adorned with intricate figured veneers as a background to silver mounts of the highest quality. The design of inlaid bees on each individual drawer front, with hinged wings that flip forward to function as handles, are particularly sophisticated.
The cabinet is currently on display in room 69, Whiteley Silver Galleries.
I had no idea a medal cabinet could be worth a million dollars! Note the nice white and blue silk medal holders in the open drawer. Now I wish I knew what medals it might have once contained!
To read the complete article, see:
The Medal Cabinet Appeal
Wayne Homren, Editor
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