Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Designer (English, 1812-1852)

Currently on View in H204.riser1
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Created in the mid-1800s at the height of the Industrial Revolution, this regal cabinet looks back to a much earlier time—the Middle Ages. It was designed by A.W.N. Pugin, an artist and architect who ignited a revival of the Gothic aesthetic in Great Britain through his writings and designs. Pugin’s passion for the centuries-old Gothic style, which he believed to be morally pure, was fueled by his conversion to Catholicism. It was also a nostalgic response to the advance of the Industrial Age, as machines supplanted the artisan and designers reevaluated notions of fine craftsmanship.

The IMA’s cabinet is based on 15th-century English court cupboards, works owned by royalty or members of the aristocracy. Commissioned by Henry Sharples of Liverpool, it features Sharples’s initials at the top, and the doors are decorated with the Sharples emblem, which contains a crescent moon and a star. Much of the furniture made for Sharples’s residence, including this cabinet, was carved by George Myers, one of the master builders of the Victorian age. Born in Hull in 1803, he gained renown as “Pugin’s builder” and, from workshops in Hull and London, directed a nationwide business.

Pugin’s ideas paved the way for the Arts & Crafts movement in Europe and America, influencing theorists and designers from John Ruskin to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Commissioned about 1847 by Henry Sharples, Oswald Croft, Bishop Elton, Liverpool; by descent to a member of the Sharples family, who gave it to a church in Bristol; Bath Art Market, England, 1984; Haslam and Whiteway, Ltd., London; John Scott, London; purchased from John Scott by IMA, March 1999.

Object Information

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (English, 1812-1852)
creation date
about 1847
oak, wrought iron, paint, gilding
86 x 59-3/4 x 22 in.
B) Key 4 in.
accession number
credit line
Gift of the Alliance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Robertine Daniels Art Fund in memory of her late husband, Richard Monroe Fairbanks, Sr., and her late son, Michael Fairbanks, and the Martha Delzell Memorial Fund
Public Domain
Decorative Arts

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