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‘pierced and perforated carving, as fine as the best cathedral screen work’: antiquarianism and faking Tudor furniture in the 1840s

Lindfield, Peter ORCID: 2022. ‘pierced and perforated carving, as fine as the best cathedral screen work’: antiquarianism and faking Tudor furniture in the 1840s. Journal of the British Archaeological Association 175 (1) , pp. 266-295. 10.1080/00681288.2022.2096758

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Collecting ancient furniture — or furniture thought to be ancient — for display in ‘romantic interiors’ proliferated in 18th-century Britain; such pieces became so popular that by the 1840s it was easy to purchase generic examples across the country. This essay explores the output of George Shaw (1810–76), a particularly industrious early Victorian antiquary, who, besides working as an architect, restorer and supplier of Gothic-style interiors, also peddled fake ancestral furniture made for specific victims. He claimed his modern forgeries were from the time of Henry VII or Henry VIII, and this essay demonstrates how they were indebted to his long-term antiquarian research into medieval architecture, heraldry and woodwork. Some of Shaw’s forgeries, particularly those for the 4th duke of Northumberland, have been considered at length recently; however, this essay demonstrates that our understanding of his corpus is far from complete given the recent emergence of his until now forgotten work for the Mosleys of Rolleston Hall in Staffordshire. It also shows how the family’s important collection of ancient furniture, some of it gifted by Elizabeth I, had a direct influence upon his work, and that we should consider him to be a more significant figure in the history of Victorian furniture and forgery than we currently understand him to be.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 May 2023
Date of Acceptance: 8 September 2022
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 07:24

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