Unique coffer bought for Beckford Tower

  • 15 November 2011

The Art Fund has helped the Beckford Tower Trust buy the only surviving piece of furniture from a set of four commissioned by William Beckford…

William Beckford, Coffer and stand, 1831–41

William Beckford, Coffer and stand, 1831–41

The Art Fund has helped the Beckford Tower Trust buy the only surviving piece of furniture from a set of four commissioned by William Beckford.

The coffer

The oak coffer and stand, which date to the 1830s, were originally created for Beckford's Tower’s Scarlet Drawing Room. It is believed they were designed by Beckford himself in collaboration with the architect Henry Edmund Goodridge, and its combination of historical inspirations and modern forms is typical of the architectonic furniture created for Beckford’s Tower. It was probably used as a display cabinet for items from Beckford’s collection.

Dr Amy Frost, Curator of Beckford’s Tower & Museum, said: ‘The coffer and stand is a superb example of Beckford’s impact on the history of furniture, design and collecting. Local support towards our campaign to purchase it has been wonderful and it is fantastic to return it to Beckford’s Tower and put it on public display in the building it was designed for.’

William Beckford

William Beckford (1760–1844) was one of Europe’s greatest collectors. He spent his fortune (inherited at age ten) on a vast collection of furniture, books and paintings, as well as a tower to contain them – built in his home city of Bath in 1827.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, commented: ‘This is a unique survival. Beckford continues to be highly respected as an arbiter of 19th-century national taste and that is why the trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund – which was set-up to safeguard our most precious heritage at risk – felt it was crucial to step in to help return this heritage treasure to its original setting.’