Forerunner of The Modernist Movement
Gorringes inaugural Spring auction will include a rare Anglo-Japanese ebonised mahogany cabinet designed by the important architect and designer Edward William Godwin (1833-1886). Godwin’s influence on modern furniture design should not be under-estimated. He sought to design furniture which was functional and appropriate to modern living, and experimented with modular and fitted furniture decades before it became popular in the mid 20th century. His designs were popular with leading artists and writers of the Victorian era including James McNeill Whistler and Oscar Wilde. Godwin exhibited his furniture at some of the great international exhibitions of the late 19th century including Vienna in 1873, Philadelphia in 1876 and Paris in 1878.
He worked in a number of different styles, and like the cabinet offered for sale by Gorringes, it is the pieces which he designed in the Anglo-Japanese style which demonstrate that he was a forerunner of the Modern Movement.
The ebonised mahogany cabinet offered in our March sale was probably made by the leading London art furniture manufacturer Collinson and Lock around 1872-75. A similar mahogany cabinet stamped by Collinson and Lock is illustrated by in Susan Weber Soros’ comprehensive book ‘The Secular Furniture of E.W. Godwin’, illus. 323 on p. 202. The cabinet offered for sale by Gorringes shows the influence on Godwin of Japanese designs such as the use of stepped shelving and the ebonised finish in imitation of black lacquer. The curved lattice-work back rail is reminiscent of fretwork on Chinese classical furniture and the brass sabots are a signature of Godwin’s Anglo-Japanese designs.
This rare example of Godwin’s Anglo-Japanese furniture will be offered in Gorringes’ 21st March Fine Art & Antiques sale with an estimate of £15,000-£20,000.