Bench (partial view), designed by A. W. N. Pugin (1812-52). Oak, stamped on the underside of the seat and underside of the front rail: "HEIR.LOOM SUTTON.PLACE" [sic]. Image and caption material © copyright The Fine Art Society with Haslam & Whiteway Ltd. Formatting, and commentary below, by Jacqueline Banerjee. [Click on the image for a larger picture.]

This impressive, richly carved oak bench, with its central crest, dates from about 1835, making it an interesting example of Pugin's early Gothic revival style. The crest features a wyvern, a mythical heraldic creature with wings and a dragon's head, and this indicates, like the Sutton Place stamps, that the piece was a commission for the Salvin family of Sutton Place. This was one of the grandest Tudor estates in Surrey, built soon after Hampton Court (see Nairn and Pevsner 476-79), and by Pugin's time in the possession of the Catholic Salvin family. It was "probably made by a local estate craftsman," the panels at the back being "based on a panel of fifteenth century carving owned by Pugin and now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London" (Bridgeman, citing Atterbury & Wainwright's Pugin: A Gothic Passion, 1994, fig.190). The bench would have been exactly right for such a setting. Pugin's thorough understanding of this kind of design would stand him in good stead when it came to the furnishing of the Palace of Westminster, where he had scope for both the richly carved and elaborate and the sparer and more functional style that he had by now evolved.

The Fine Art Society, London, has most generously given its permission to use information, images, and text from its catalogues in the Victorian Web. This generosity has led to the creation of hundreds and hundreds of the site's most valuable documents on painting, drawing, sculpture, furniture, textiles, ceramics, glass, metalwork, and the people who created them. The copyright on text and images from their catalogues remains, of course, with the Fine Art Society.


"Bench, c.1835 (carved oak)." Bridgeman Art. Web. 29 May 2014. Note: this site has a full picture of the bench, also from the Fine Art Society.

Gere, Charlotte, and Michael Whiteway. Nineteenth-Century Design from Pugin to Mackintosh. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1993 (see especially p.54).

Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner, rev. Birdget Cherry. The Buildings of England: Surrey. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1971.

Last modified 29 May 2014