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Art & Design

Collinson & Lock, Octagonal center table, ca. 1875, Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund

Collinson & Lock Edward William Godwin

Octagonal center table

Edward William Godwin, designer British, 1833-1886
Collinson & Lock, manufacturer
English, 1870-1897
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.

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