Pair of Aesthetic Movement Painted Wardrobes | Rose Uniacke

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Pair of Aesthetic Movement Painted Wardrobes

By Dyer, Harper & Dyer, read more.

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About this piece

Made by Dyer, Harper and Dyer

Two door painted deal pedimented wardrobeswith Japonesque decoration, including floral, bird and geometric motifs. With patent registration mark for 1874, numbering 280637 and inscribed 'Japanese' and original design sketch

England, circa 1874

Attributed to Dyer, Harper and Dyer via the registration mark, and a design sketch from 1874, the wardrobe exhibits the characteristic stencilled decoration that the firm became known for. They exhibited a similar wardrobe at the Paris Exhibition of 1867, purchased by the Empress of France, and a passage from the Art Journal supplement 1867 states that the stencilled decoration was‘as refreshing to the eye as if the woods had been of the rarest and most costly’. 

Whilst being of conventional classical configuration, the decorated panels of stylized floral works and details of Japanese calligraphy firmly place this piece as part of the Art Furniture Movement of the 1870’s and 1880’s. These Anglo-Japanese characteristics very much derive from Christopher Dresser, conveying the appearance of Japanese lacquered furniture merged with a Neo-Classical profile. 

Dresser championed the merits of Japanese drawings and the precision of the rendering, citing its crispness of touch and angularity, its power of delineating natural forms with simplicity. In his 1882 publication, Japan, its Architecture, Art & Art Manufactures, he shows various native illustrations in order to demonstrate that ‘no other people can make drawings live as can the Japanese’. The cabinet’s stencilled decoration (in particular the almost abstract line drawings on the central panels) faithfully follow Dresser’s vision of line drawing accompanied with bold, flat colouring. There is even the inclusion of ornamental ‘faux’ Japanese crests, decorative motifs whose original subtext has long since disappeared. 

Above all, the wardrobe, through its gentle sifting of styles and simplicity of construction, departs radically from Victorian cabinet- work, and celebrates Dresser’s desired ambition to raise ‘common’ furniture to the status of Fine Art. 


H 220cm x W 123cm x D 60cm
H 86¾" x W 48½" x D 23¾"

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