Miniature Cabinet returns to Tredegar House

  • 5 August 2009

An unusual and elegant walnut cabinet with ties to the Morgan family who lived in Tredegar House, Newport for five centuries, has been returned to its original home thanks to grants from independent charity The Art Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Friends of Tredegar House and the Beecroft Bequest.

The cabinet went on display at Tredegar House last week. It was acquired at a Bonhams auction for £69,600, of which £34,140 came from The Art Fund and £24,360 from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. The Friends of Tredegar House raised £6,100 with the Beecroft Bequest funding the remaining £5,000.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "Not only is this cabinet beautifully crafted and striking in its walnut colour, it has strong ties to Tredegar House and the Morgan family and offers a glimpse at Sir William Morgan’s taste for elegant design. The Art Fund is delighted to have helped bring the piece home."

Emily Price, Curator at Tredegar House, said: "We were extremely excited when we saw that this pretty cabinet was coming up for auction, and knew that we had to try to raise the money to bring it back to Tredegar House permanently. Such distinctive and attractive pieces of furniture from the House’s original collection do not come onto the market very often, so last month’s auction was a rare opportunity to enrich our displays. The new acquisition will help us to give visitors a taste of how opulent the House was when the Morgan family lived here."

The cabinet appears to have been created c 1720, during the reign of George I. It is thought to have been commissioned especially for Sir William Morgan (1700 – 1731), part of the Morgan family who lived in the House for over 500 years.

Elegantly shaped and attractive in its warm, golden colour, the cabinet is particularly rare because of its diminutive size. The body is made from walnut, inlaid with boxwood and ebonised lines. Effectively a scaled down adults bureau, the piece may well have been made for Sir William Morgan’s son.

Sir William Morgan was an extravagant spender and had an avid interest in fine craft. During his short life, he acquired silver punch bowls, built cock pits and race courses.

Tredegar House is one of the finest and most intriguing late 17th century Houses in Wales and indeed Great Britain. The Morgan family, who lived on the Tredegar House site for over 500 years, sold the property in 1951. The collection was dispersed through the 1950s, largely at auction, with this piece being sold in 1957. Today the House seeks to bring these original pieces ‘home’. Since Newport City Council bought the House in 1974, many original works have been returned.

This cabinet appeared in 1957 House Sale catalogue, and there are labels on the back of the cabinet which read ‘Tredegar Park’ and ‘Lord Tredegar’. Such labels appear on other pieces originally from the collection. Evidence suggests that it has not been on public display since 1962, when it was exhibited at the CINOA (Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d'Art) International Art Treasures Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1962.

Ends

For more information contact

Marina Bradbury at The Art Fund Press Office, mbradbury@artfund.org, 020 7225 4888

Emily Price, Curator, Tredegar House, Emily.price@newport.gov.uk, 01633 815880

Notes to Editors:

Tredegar House

Set in a beautiful 90 acre park, Tredegar House is one of the best examples of a late 17th century mansion in Britain. Tredegar House was the ancestral home of the Morgan Family, later lords Tredegar, for over 500 years. At the end of the 18th century the Morgans owned over 40,000 acres in Monmouthshire, Breconshire and Glamorgan. Their lives impacted on the population of south east Wales socially, economically and politically.

On a visit to the House you will hear many stories of the family, while their portraits look at you from the walls. Some are tales of money and power, others centre around eccentricities and sadness. What is certain is that the Morgans are as intriguing as the House itself.

Most of the House we see today dates from the 1670s. We are always learning more about the House, and those involved with it. A visit explores the impressive areas ‘below stairs’ where the servants worked, the lavish State Rooms where the Morgans entertained, and the rather more comfortable family living areas. Tours including ‘Unexplored Tredegar’ and the ‘Butler and Housekeeper’ are an entertaining way to find out about the House and its inhabitants. There are always events going on, and the House also offers very popular school workshops.

Tredegar House is open from Easter to the end of September. House tours operate from Wednesday – Sunday, starting at 11.00am, then hourly until 4.00pm. Other events happen throughout the year.

Tredegar House is located 100 metres from the M4, exit 28. It is just two miles from Newport, and 8 miles from Cardiff.

www.newport.gov.uk/tredegarhouse

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London in February 2009 with a grant of £1 million; helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org .

The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174

V&A Purchase Grant Fund

· The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund, that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.

· It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.

· The annual grants budget, £9000,000 for 2009/10, is provided by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

· Each year it considers some 250 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £4 million to go ahead.

· Visit the website: www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund

The Friends of Tredegar House

The Friends of Tredegar House is a charitable organisation of nearly 30 years. It aims to spread public interest in the historical, architectural and environmental importance of Tredegar House in Newport, acknowledged as one of the finest country houses in Wales. Over the past 10 years they have raised nearly £40,000 to assist with the purchase, restoration and conservation of objects on display in the House.

The Beecroft Bequest

The Beecroft Bequest was formed from the residue of the estate of the late Walter G Beecroft, which was bequeathed to the Museums Association in 1961. The income deriving from the investment of this bequest is distributed as grant-in-aid to smaller art galleries and museums for the purchase of pictures and works of art not later than the 18th century in date.

http://www.museumsassociation.org

Special thanks to Martin Levy of H. Blairman and Sons Ltd for his very kind generosity in offering advice and help with the purchase of this cabinet.

Tredegar House, Newport, South Wales. NP10 8YW