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Birmingham Museums Trust acquires important writing table for Soho House Museum

Birmingham Museums Trust acquires important writing table for Soho House Museum

14th January 2013

Birmingham Museums Trust has been successful in raising the funding to acquire an original writing table commissioned by Matthew Boulton for his daughter Anne (1768-1829) which was formerly part of the furnishings at Soho House in Handsworth. 

The satinwood table is a fine example of the work of fashionable Regency furniture maker James Newton and still has its original label. 

The table is especially significant as it can be clearly identified as a piece commissioned by Matthew Boulton for Soho House as it is described in detail in Newton’s 1798 bill to Boulton which survives in Birmingham Archives: 

 'A Ladys Satten Wood Writing table of very / fine wood Banded with Rose and Tulip / wood, with a slide cover'd fine green Cloth / & Writing Apparus good brass Lock & / Patten handles Varnished and highly / Pollished' 

Above the maker’s label on the drawer bottom the letters 'AB' are written in an 18th century hand which supports the theory that it was made for Boulton’s daughter, Anne.  

The newly acquired table will be displayed in Anne Boulton’s sitting room at Soho House along with a carved wood and gilt gesso pier glass c1795 which Birmingham Museums have bought as part of the same acquisition. 

The £25,000 fundraising target for the acquisition was achieved thanks to grants from the Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of Birmingham Museums. 

Chris Rice, Head of Heritage Services at Birmingham Museums Trust commented: ‘We are thrilled to have been able to achieve this important acquisition. The table is a fine example of Newton’s work and a lovely object in its own right -  but it is especially important to us because of its links with Soho House and Anne Boulton and the story it tells about her life there.’ 

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund Director said: “The return of this important and beautifully crafted writing table to its original home at Soho House is a happy event, and we’re pleased to have helped Birmingham Museums in making this happen.”

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