Origin: English Period: Aesthetic Movement Provenance: Unknown Date: c.1875-85 Height: 43.5” Width: 22.25” Depth: 16” (all at extremities)
The good quality ebonised étagère, in the Anglo-Japanese manner, having pierced decorative rails, faux bamboo turned supports and counterbalanced shelves with pagoda upturns, to a lower galleried shelf, with the original beveled mirror to the gallery back, surviving from late nineteenth England, inspired directly by the designs of E.W.Godwin.
The étagère is in good overall condition and has the expected signs of wear to the ebonised finish to the extremities, for example to the top, with some light surface marks. She remains sturdy for daily use and we have given the piece a light polish to the ebonised finish. There are some losses the ornamental decoration with one part of the greek key lower tier missing, and there may have been extra ornamentation to three other areas, now lacking though the piece still retains a good balance of decoration.
The aesthetic movement can be seen as the bridge to the arts and crafts style. It often had formalised, restrained ornamentation, and was heavily influenced by Japanese decoration, knowledge of which flowed to the West in the nineteenth century through oriental imports. It rebelled against the lavish ornamentation and over-embellishment of the high Victorian period, and sought a purer, more precise level of expression. This piece shows many of these influences in the way the shelves mimic the roofs of oriental pagodas, for instance.
Godwin a true pioneer of his day, a revolutionary of his time the Godfather of the modern movement and a significant leader in the influence on domestic design, one of the first people to incorporate economy and hygiene into his furniture, his thinning designs using as little wood as appropriate yet making the piece as strong as possible, so even a maid could move the furniture on her own to clean behind and under and designed furniture without dust attracting area's so important in an age where disease was rife. His disbandment of clumsy or over ornate detailing his lean toward line and form in a purely Japanese style yet he never visited Japan, it is thought that he was most probably the first man in England to decorate his entire house in the Japanese style and drew part of his inspiration from 2 volumes of Hokusai's Mangwa from which he gained his knowledge of Japanese wood construction and he carefully studied original pieces on display at museums.
A very versatile piece of salient and uncommon furniture that will happily sit in a modern interior; with design way ahead of its time.