Armoire Bookcase Cabinet
Designed by A W N Pugin (1812 - 1852)
Made by John Gregory Crace (1809 - 1889)
Carved and painted oak
Museum no. 25-1852
The architect and designer A W N Pugin arranged the Medieval Court in the Great Exhibition entirely in the Gothic style. There are some ceramic pieces and metalwork that were shown in the Exhibition in this room, but the most impressive is the enormous oak cabinet that he designed. It appears that even Pugin was not immune to the desire to show off in a public setting. Despite looking more like a chancel screen than a cabinet, this is a secular piece of furniture. It demonstrates Pugin's mastery of ornamental detail as well as the immense skill of the woodworkers employed by the maker, J. Crace. It is the quality of the workmanship in the exhibition objects, rather than the frequently ostentatious designs, that is most likely to impress us today.
A.W.N. Pugin was also trying to influence British taste. In books such as 'Contrasts', first published in 1836, Pugin gave vent to his intense dislike of the paganism of classical design and described his admiration for what he felt were the pure Christian qualities of the Gothic style. Although his writing was influential, it was the work Pugin was commissioned to do for the Houses of Parliament that makes him the father of Victorian Gothic style. He was responsible for all the interiors at Westminster and the decoration of the exterior.