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Unknown Tasmanian Cabinet Maker

Double-ended sofa

Unknown Tasmanian | Cabinetmaker Australia | Double-ended sofa c.1830-40 | Cedar, carved, with replacement black horsehair upholstery on Tasmanian oak carcass | 101 x 226 x 60cm | Acc. 2009.194 | Purchased 2009 with funds raised through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 30th Anniversary Appeal

Double ended Sofa c.1830-40

This is the earliest item of colonial furniture in the Queensland Art Gallery Collection. It is an exceptional example of the Neo-Grec style. The Neo-Grec influence owes much to the development of Greek and Roman archeology (notably the discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum then appearing in luxurious publications) which fascinated European society during the latter part of the eighteenth century.

It is especially indebted to the work of Thomas Hope (1768-1831). His publication ‘Household Furniture and Interior Decoration’ (1807) illustrated his designs for furniture for his own home which were close to their ancient models and sympathetic to his extensive collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities. His influence quickly spread to other designers and became more generalised. Although there has been debate as to the speed that designs from pattern books were translated from England to the colonies, the dating of c.1830-40 seems appropriate.

The carving has a skill and assurance which shows the carver was utterly familiar with the component elements of the style and suggests the carver may have trained in London.

The sofa has recently been recovered with a black horse-hair fabric as vestiges of hair were found under the original upholstery nails. Such fabrics were preferred for hard wearing capabilities and also reflect the sobriety of the style.