Circa 1924, an Arts and Crafts fumed oak centre table, made for the Liberty & Co Tudor building in Great Marlborough Street, London.
The planked and pegged rectangular top with moulded edge, above cross framed supports, each with spirally reeded elements linked by a spirally fluted central stretcher and with twin planked stretchers above, each stretcher end radially inlaid with specimen woods, the platform base raised on bracket feet and linked by a plank stretcher, bears later label '594’.
Size 76cm high x 137cm wide x 71.5cm deep.
The magnificent Liberty & Co Tudor building was completed in 1924 and was built so that trading could continue while renovations were being completed on their adjacent premises in Regent Street. It was designed by Edwin Thomas Hall and his son Edwin Stanley Hall at the height of the 1920s fashion for the Tudor revival and constructed from the timbers of two 19th century men-of-war battleships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. After the First World War a more reactionary attitude towards architecture and design was understandable and the Liberty board recognized the marketing advantage and reassurance to their customers of building in the sixteenth century manner. The new building would demonstrate craft of the highest quality and attention to detail and would be a reflection of the Arts & Crafts values of "truth to material" which had played such an important part in the foundation of the company and the goods that it sold.
The shop was engineered around three galleried light wells that formed the main focus of the building and emulated the great atrium spaces of Bon Marché and Printemps in Paris. Sir Arthur Liberty, who founded Liberty & Co. in 1875, wanted to create the feeling that you were walking around your own home so surrounding these wells were more intimate rooms which reflected the warren of rooms found in the original shop in Regent Street. Liberty's own workshops in Highgate made the wood panelling and a team of twenty carvers worked for eighteen months on the woodwork alone.
This is a beautiful looking table which has been used at one of the most famous shops in the world. The beauty and simplicity of the table make it desirable and its provenance make it an important piece of early 20th Century British furniture.
Under the supervision of the architects a collection of furniture was made for the rooms and galleries to display the textiles, clothes and luxury goods that Liberty & Co was so famous for. It is represented by a series of tables, chests and display cabinets, all made in the sixteenth century style, with pegged construction and decorative details complimenting the design details in the building. The finish is either a dark fumed, natural or limed finish, also a characteristic of the wood finishes of the rooms in which they once stood. All the furniture was made in the firm's workshops in Highgate and demonstrates the same high levels of craftsmanship and attention to detail as the building itself.
Liberty & Co. has retained a core of pieces for its collection; however this piece of historic furniture, now unsuitable for contemporary retailing, is offered here by us at Georgian Antiques, Leith Links, Edinburgh EH6 7HF.
(Images of the Liberty & Co.s' Tudor building at its opening in 1924, and of furniture being made at the workshop in Highgate circa 1923, copyright: City of Westminster Archives Centre/Liberty Plc).
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