16 Apr 2021


September 29, 2012 - Filed under: Madonna & Child — Mandy

Images of the Madonna and the Madonna and Child or Virgin and Child are pictorial or sculptured representations of Mary, Mother of Jesus, either alone, or more frequently, with the infant Jesus. These images are central icons of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity where Mary remains a central artistic topic. No image permeates Christian art as the image of Madonna and Child.

While Mary, the Mother of Jesus, may be referred to as “the Madonna” in other contexts, in art the term is applied specifically to an artwork in which Mary, with or without the infant Jesus, is the focus, and central figure of the picture. Mary and the infant Jesus may be surrounded by adoring angels or worshiping saints. Images that have a narrative content, including those of the many scenes which make up the Life of the Virgin, are not correctly referred to as “Madonnas” but are given a title that reflects the scene such as the Annunciation to Mary.

The earliest such images date from the Early Christian Church and are found in the Catacombs of Rome. Representation of Mary became more common after the Council of Ephesus in 431.  For over a thousand years, through the Byzantine, Medieval and Early Renaissance periods the Madonna was the most often produced pictorial artwork. Many specific images of the Madonna, both painted and sculptured, have achieved fame, either as objects of religious veneration or for their intrinsic artistic qualities. Many of the most renowned painters and sculptors in the history of art have turned their skills toward the creation of Madonna images.


- Filed under: Antique Tables — Mandy
lowboy is an American collectors term for a dressing table, or vanity. It is a small table with one or two rows of drawers, so called in contradistinction to the tallboy or highboy chest of drawers
Both lowboy and tallboy were favourite pieces of the 18th century, both in England and in the United States; the lowboy was most frequently used as a dressing-table, but sometimes as a side-table. It is usually made of oak, walnut or mahogany, with the drawer-fronts mounted with brass pulls and escutcheons. The more elegant examples in the Queen Anne, early Georgian, and Chippendale styles often have cabriole legs, carved knees, and slipper or claw-and-ball feet. The fronts of some examples also are sculpted with the scallop-shell motif beneath the centre drawer.


- Filed under: Cotswold School Furniture — Mandy

London had been the centre of development for the Arts and Crafts movement in the 1880’s with new groups being established as interest spread. One of the most important was the Guild of Handicraft started by Charles Ashbee. When the lease on Guild workshops at Essex House ran out, members of the Guild agreed to move away from the noise and grime of East London in favour of the clean air and tranquillity of life in the Cotswolds at the village of Chipping Campden in 1902. Before the Guild arrived however, there was already a thriving Arts and Crafts enterprise set up by Earnest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers Earnest and Sidney who had moved from London 1893

The story of Gimson and the Barnsleys is recorded in an excellent book by Mary Greenstead who describes how the young Gimson had been much inspired by William Morris who he had met when Morris was giving a lecture in Leicester. Gimson was somewhat of a protege for Morris who introduced him to the London architect J. D. Sedding. Gimson took up articles with Sedding who’s offices were next door to Morris and Co in Oxford Street. Through his work he met Earnest and Sidney Barnsley who had also moved to London to train as architects.

Gimson and Sidney Barnsley joined the newly established firm of Kenton and Company in 1890 designing furniture, some of which was exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition in 1891. Kenton and Co was established as part of an effort to improve standards of design and craftsmanship as opposed to production of a wide range of mediocre but commercial products. When the firm disbanded in 1892, Gimson and the Barnsleys decided to move to the country and the idea of setting up a craft community, with ‘ a few capable and trustworthy craftsmen’ became a driving force.

Settling at Pinbury, they established a joint workshop producing furniture of very high quality construction and innovative design . The solidity and honesty of the construction of their pieces was appreciated at the time, and their ‘open joinery’ with wooden pins, and dovetail joints undisguised, helped to establish their style It is however interesting that the style also included decorative inlays in fruitwood and other materials, chamfering, stringing and other rather elaborate techniques which seem at odds with the notion of plain and simple furniture. These techniques however became widely adopted in the design of furniture for commercial manufacturers.


September 26, 2012 - Filed under: Thuya Wood — Mandy

Tetraclinis  is a genus of evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, containing only one species, Tetraclinis articulata, also known as Thuja articulata, sandarac, sandarac tree or Barbary thuja, endemic to the western Mediterranean region. It is native to northwestern Africa in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with two small outlying populations on Malta, and near Cartagena in southeast Spain. It grows at relatively low altitudes in a hot, dry subtropical Mediterranean climate.

Its closest relatives are Platycladus, Microbiota and Calocedres, with the closest resemblance to the latter. In older texts, it was sometimes treated in Thuja or Callitris, but it is less closely related to those genera.


It is a small, slow-growing tree, to 6–15 m (rarely 20 m) tall and 0.5 m (rarely 1 m) trunk diameter, often with two or more trunks from the base. The foliage forms in open sprays with scale-like leaves 1–8 mm long and 1–1.5 mm broad; the leaves are arranged in opposite decussate pairs, with the successive pairs closely then distantly spaced, so forming apparent whorls of four. The cones are 10–15 mm long, green ripening brown in about 8 months from pollination, and have four thick scales arranged in two opposite pairs. The seeds are 5–7 mm long and 2 mm broad, with a 3–4 mm broad papery wing on each side.

It is one of only a small number of conifers able to coppice (re-grow by sprouting from stumps), an adaptation to survive wildfire and moderate levels of browsing by animals. Old trees that have sprouted repeatedly over a long period form large burls at the base, known as lupias. It is the National tree of Malta and is now being used locally in afforestation projects.

The resin, known as sandarac is used to make varnish and lacquer, it is particularly valued for preserving paintings.


The wood, known as thuya wood or citron wood, and historically also known as thyine wood, is used for decorative woodwork, particularly wood from burls at the base of the trunk. Use of the burl wood kills the tree. The market in Morocco is unsustainable, focusing as it does on the burl, and has resulted in mass deforestation of the species. The species is also threatened by overgrazing, which can kill the coppice regrowth before it gets tall enough to be out of the reach of livestock.

September 17, 2012 - Filed under: Maple & Co — Mandy

With a warehouse that was one of the “sites of London”, Maple & Co was once the largest furniture retailer and manufacturer in the world, attracting visitors from near and far. The company was most prolific in the late Victorian and Edwardian era, specialising in fine quality Arts & Crafts Furniture, designed and produced in their own workshops. However, they continued producing fine quality furniture up until the 1980s.

Maple & Co was established by John Maple, a shopkeeper from Horley, Surrey, who later opened a furniture shop in Tottenham Court Road. However it was his son, John Blundell Maple , who made Maples & Co a success. With exceptional business skills, John B. Maple took over the company while still a young man. By the 1880s they were the largest furniture store in the world, exported their fine furniture to every continent.

Antique desks with a racing chance

Maples manufactured their luxury furniture entirely in-house, at a huge modern complex. A timber importer and furniture exporter, they landed prestigious contracts furnishing fine houses, hotels, embassies and palaces in Europe; among them Tsar Nicholas’s Winter Palace and the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna . With his own empire established, John Blundell Maple achieved further fame in politics and horseracing – some lines, such as the Atherstoke antique cabinet, having racing connections in the titles.
Never compromising on quality, Maples produced a huge catalogue of fine furniture, covering every avenue of interior design. A Maples & Co sale today would cover everything from Chippendale Revival antique dining chairs , to Aesthetic style carved oak dressers, to Art Nouveau tulip carved antique dining tables – all from the same catalogue.

Antique cabinets that never age

The exclusivity and high quality of craftsmanship of Maples’ antique cabinets, dining suites and bedroom furniture made them highly popular with Britain’s social elite. Today, they appeal to anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship.

In 1905, Maples advertised a pedestal desk as a “writing table fitted for the typewriter”. Today, office users in Preston will find antique desks with the Maples emblem described as computer desks. The true quality of Maples Arts & Crafts Furniture, for Preston buyers, is in its timelessness.



September 6, 2012 - Filed under: Moorcroft Pottery — Mandy

As a reaction to mass production, ‘art pottery’ enjoyed wide popularity at the end of the 19th century. Names like Carter (Poole), Pilkingtons (Salford), Linthorpe (Middlesborough), William De Morgan (London) and Ruskin (Smethwick) all emerged in this period. Among the most successful and enduring was the Moorcroft pottery in Cobridge, Staffordshire.

William Moorcroft (1872-1945), an art school graduate and the son of a Burslem china painter and designer, was first employed in 1897 as a 24-year-old designer for the commercial pottery and porcelain firm of James Macintyre & Co.

Within a year he was in charge of the company’s ornamental ware department and, by 1904, the Art Nouveau-influenced Florian Ware that perfected the technique of trailing slip known as tube-lining had won him a gold medal at the St Louis International Exhibition.

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