Sunday, June 9, 2013

Her Majesty’s Furniture: King George IV’s Bath Cabinet

Bath Cabinet
Morel & Seddon, 1828
Made for King George IV
The Royal Collection

Once King George IV had finished redecorating Carlton House, he turned his attention to refurbishing the Royal apartments at Windsor Castle. The first order of business was to redo his bedroom and bath. The trouble with George IV was that he had so many passions and so many tastes that combining his desires into one cohesive interior design was somewhat complicated if not impossible. George IV wanted his bedroom and bath to be hung with blue silk—like a tent in the Persian style—into which mirrored alcoves would be inset for his bed and bath.

To this end, this bath cabinet was made from panels from a cabinet built in 1810. The three-sided casket of purplewood, satinwood, pietra dura and gilt bronze was set on casters. It opened at the top to allow access to the bathtub. By all accounts it was strange and awkward to use—being at once difficult to get into and out of and quite sloppy to transport. The King quickly grew tired of the cumbersome tub and its preventative case and had the thing put in storage soon after it was introduced to him in 1828.

Later, Prince Albert, being an industrious and frugal sort of chap, came upon the bath cabinet in storage and thought it would make a nice folio cabinet. He had the bathtub removed and the back closed-in so that the piece would have some degree of usefulness.

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