10 Apr 2021
March 17, 2011 - Filed under: Antique Desks,Antique Tables — Richard

Cumbrian antique dealers are familiar with the work of William Burges (1827 – 1881), whose work influenced many of the Victorian dining chairs in Preston showrooms. Now, Bedford Museum has just acquired one of his most famous pieces, the Zodiac Settle, at a cost of £850,000. The museum already has an extensive collection of William Burges’ painted Arts & Crafts furniture, which includes a washstand, bed and doors from one of his flamboyant antique cabinets.

To Lancashire observers, Burges’ elaborately painted Gothic Revival furniture are masterpieces of the Aesthetic Movement, totally removed from the homely Arts & Crafts furniture which came later. A contemporary of William Morris, Burges fans in Lancashire will find his Victorian dining chairs in the Morris Gallery at Walthamstow Museum. His intricately painted interiors, Victorian dining tables, antique desks and other works can be seen to their best advantage in Cardiff Castle, Castle Coch and Knighthayes Court, all of which he designed. His home, Tower House in London, is a masterpiece of his work but privately owned – by Jimmy Page, ex-lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, amazingly.

The Zodiac Settle has an illustrious provenance. Designed by Burges for his own home, it passed through the hands of John Betjeman and the Evelyn Waugh family before finally being purchased by the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum, with the help of grants from National Heritage, the Art Fund and museum trustees. It will feature in the new William Burges Gallery, opening in 2012. The museum also has more traditional displays, if you prefer patina rather than paint on your antique desk. Preston antique dealers have good examples of both styles of furniture.

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