Collinson & Lock Edward William Godwin
Octagonal center table
Collinson & Lock, English, Octagonal center table, ca. 1875, Rosewood and mahogany, with brass; 73.7 x 100.3 x 100.3 cm (29 x 39 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches), Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 1990.048
To late nineteenth-century Aesthetic Movement tastemakers, art did not require a didactic purpose or a sentimental message; it needed only to offer aesthetic pleasure. This octagonal center table with delicately turned legs and rosewood veneer is a work of beauty and fragility in the Japanese taste. The table is light and portable for practical reasons, among which is that the designer —-architect E. W. Godwin, a central figure in the Aesthetic Movement—- wanted to make furniture that could be easily rearranged. In 1877, the painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler commissioned Godwin to design his White House in Chelsea (England), and in the 1880s Godwin decorated writer Oscar Wilde’s nearby residence. Godwin’s sketches for this table are housed among his papers at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.