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Arts and Crafts Movement Cabinets & Sideboards
Cabinet furniture offered Arts and Crafts designers and handcraft workers the greatest scope to showcase their love for innovative styles combined with restrained yet often rich decorative effects. Descriptive terms in vogue at the time were ‘Art furniture’ and ‘Quaint furniture’ showing a desire for novelty that was expressed most fully in the Art Nouveau (‘New Art’) style emanating from Paris from the 1890s. Sideboards, although a development from the rustic dresser, were often embellished with leaded doors – upper and lower, repousse work strap work to hinges and locks, and enhanced by inlays of exotic woods, pewter or mother of pearl. Large copper panels feature on many sideboards by Shapland and Petter that were retailed throughout Britain and abroad by prestigious stores including Liberty & Co in London and Wylie & Lochhead in Glasgow. Liberty’s creative director, Leonard Wyburd, contributed large and impressive pieces, such as the ‘Witlaf’ sideboard.
China or Display cabinets were another form that attracted the best of the Arts and Crafts decorative approach. G M Ellwood designed some striking pieces for the Bath Cabinet Makers. Those produced by Shapland & Petter, often designed by their in- house designer William Cowie, found their way into the retail catalogues of many high-end stores, while Harris Lebus, another major purveyor of Arts and Crafts furniture, preferred to buy in their range from specialist makers. As with sideboards, the influence of Art Nouveau taste, particularly in the use of naturalistic and floral inlays of sinuous and elongated form, is evident in many of the most attractive display cabinets available today.