‘Dwarf’ cabinet

  • Designer / Maker

    Designed and manufactured by George Bullock (1782/83-1818)

  • Provenance

    Princess Sophia of Gloucester (1773-1844), Ranger’s House, Blackheath; her sale, Mr Frederick Chinnock, Messrs Collinson & Hurley, 29 January 1845 (and following four days), lot 440

  • Collection

    English Heritage, Ranger’s House, Blackheath

  • Marked

    Inscribed in ink on the top edge of the uppermost drawer: ‘A British Oak Cabinet presented by Her Majesty to Her Royal Highness The Princess Sophia of Gloucester. August 1814’

  • Notes

    In 1815, Princess Sophia, niece of George III, moved to Ranger’s House and before long set about making improvements (see Julius Bryant, Finest Prospects, exhibition catalogue, London, 1986, p.35). The cabinet, which has now been returned to Ranger’s House, doubtless arrived at that time and remained until Sophia’s death, when it was sold from the “Centre With-Drawing Room”. In the sale catalogue it was highlighted as ‘A very elaborately designed winged cabinet, formed of a splendid specimen of Pollard Oak, tastefully inlaid with ebony, gilt raised trellis back, china shelf over centre, turned column supports and open brass gallery, four gilt trellis panel doors under, fitted with fluted crimson silk, enclosing nests of oak drawers, lined with cedar, Bramah’s patent locks and keys, a present from Her late Majesty Queen Charlotte’. As is shown by many of the over one thousand lots in the sale, Princess Sophia was a keen collector. There were other cabinets offered with similarly supported, raised china shelves. For example, lots 509, 649 and 679. This unusual feature may have been a specially requested adaptation to help display the collection. It also seems likely that the cabinet was originally conceived without wings. It was often the case that furniture and other works of art in the Royal Collection were altered within a few years of their first being supplied.

    Our cabinet, acquired by Queen Charlotte for Princess Sophia, is the first example of George Bullock’s furniture for the Royal family to be positively identified. It was purchased at about the time that Bullock’s London workshops opened behind his house in Tenterden Street. Coming so soon after he had become fully established in the capital, Royal patronage would have been seen as a most encouraging and valuable accolade. Without doubt, further evidence of Bullock’s work for the Crown will emerge. It has already been noted that in the sale of “The Remaining Part of a Valuable Collection of Curiosities . . .” belonging to Queen Charlotte there was “A very sumptuous circular ink stand, of the late George Bullock’s Buhl manufacture .. .” (Christie’s, 24 May 1819, lot 38).