Miniature Cabinet Returns to Tredegar House

. August 6, 2009

An unusual and elegant walnut cabinet with ties to the Morgan family who lived in Tredegar House, Newport for five centuries, has been returned to its original home thanks to grants from independent charity The Art Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Friends of Tredegar House and the Beecroft Bequest.

Miniature CabinetThe cabinet went on display at Tredegar House last week. It was acquired at a Bonhams auction for £69,600, of which £34,140 came from The Art Fund and £24,360 from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. The Friends of Tredegar House raised £6,100 with the Beecroft Bequest funding the remaining £5,000.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: “Not only is this cabinet beautifully crafted and striking in its walnut colour, it has strong ties to Tredegar House and the Morgan family and offers a glimpse at Sir William Morgan’s taste for elegant design. The Art Fund is delighted to have helped bring the piece home.”

Emily Price, Curator at Tredegar House, said: “We were extremely excited when we saw that this pretty cabinet was coming up for auction, and knew that we had to try to raise the money to bring it back to Tredegar House permanently. Such distinctive and attractive pieces of furniture from the House’s original collection do not come onto the market very often, so last month’s auction was a rare opportunity to enrich our displays. The new acquisition will help us to give visitors a taste of how opulent the House was when the Morgan family lived here.”

The cabinet appears to have been created c 1720, during the reign of George I. It is thought to have been commissioned especially for Sir William Morgan (1700 – 1731), part of the Morgan family who lived in the House for over 500 years.

Elegantly shaped and attractive in its warm, golden colour, the cabinet is particularly rare because of its diminutive size. The body is made from walnut, inlaid with boxwood and ebonised lines. Effectively a scaled down adults bureau, the piece may well have been made for Sir William Morgan’s son.

Sir William Morgan was an extravagant spender and had an avid interest in fine craft. During his short life, he acquired silver punch bowls, built cock pits and race courses.

Tredegar House is one of the finest and most intriguing late 17th century Houses in Wales and indeed Great Britain. The Morgan family, who lived on the Tredegar House site for over 500 years, sold the property in 1951. The collection was dispersed through the 1950s, largely at auction, with this piece being sold in 1957. Today the House seeks to bring these original pieces ‘home’. Since Newport City Council bought the House in 1974, many original works have been returned.

This cabinet appeared in 1957 House Sale catalogue, and there are labels on the back of the cabinet which read ‘Tredegar Park’ and ‘Lord Tredegar’. Such labels appear on other pieces originally from the collection. Evidence suggests that it has not been on public display since 1962, when it was exhibited at the CINOA (Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art) International Art Treasures Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1962.

Category: Antiques News

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