Lancashire antique collectors will be watching their TV sets a little more closely from now on. A brooch by noted Arts & Crafts furniture designer William Burges has just been sold for £31,000 at a Leicestershire antiques auction. The owner, who was contemplating selling it at a local market for £10, was alerted after seeing sketches of the brooch on Antiques Roadshow.
William Bruges (1827 – 1881) is among the most imaginative and creative of the Victorian art-designers. Best known for romantic, pseudo-mediaeval buildings like Castle Coch and Cardiff Castle, he was also a gifted jewellery maker and stained glass craftsman. However, after his architectural works he is best known for his painted Arts & Crafts furniture, which range from simple rustic pieces to elaborately painted cathedrals, disguised as gothic antique cabinets. Ribble Valley residents might baulk at the extravagance of Burges’ Zodiac Settle, recently purchased by the Bedford Museum for £850,000; but few in Lancashire would mind Victorian dining chairs of the kind Burges’ created for Castle Coch. Stained in dark green, and with a simple gilded leaf motif to the stretchers and top rail, these rush-seated Victorian dining chairs have none of the elaborate mythology associated with Burges’ grander Arts & Crafts furniture designs, but are stunning nonetheless.
In Lancashire, antique dealers sometimes have antique furniture attributable to William Burges or his studio. In Preston, look for antique dining tables and Victorian dining chairs carrying the gilded Castle Coch signature, and stamped Walden. He was one of several craftsmen who worked for Burges in his workshop.
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