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December 10, 2004

World's ugliest cabinet fetches $44.6 M


The Scottsman's antiques critic suspended is usual rule against writing about furniture for this one. Details...

The Badminton Cabinet was commissioned by Henry Somerset, the third duke of Beaufort, from the Grand-ducal Workshops in Florence in 1726. Unsurpassed in its richness and splendour, the cabinet is testimony to the young duke’s genius. He was only 19 at the time of the commission, so he made one of the greatest acts of patronage of the 18th century even before he had come of age.

Christie’s, the fine art auctioneer, which will offer the Badminton Cabinet for sale in London on 9 December, says that the object which the duke ordered should be regarded more as an architectural monument than a piece of furniture, combining, as it does, architecture, sculpture and painting in pietre dure (inlaid mosaic work with hard precious stones), the whole resulting in a unique masterpiece.

It derives its name from Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the family residence of the Beaufort dukes.

This monumental work (it measures 386cm high by 232.5cm wide) is undoubtedly the finest Florentine work of art of its time. It is also possibly the most important work of decorative arts to have been commissioned by a British patron in 300 years. [...].


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A big lol to the title~
It's provenance, darling!

Love your site, and your writing and ideas too. I've been told I have magic thighs* as well.

luv Sean in SF

*mnemonic device there. sorry!

Sometimes I wonder if that's how people respond to contemporary art that fetches a large price. . . . No, that cabinet is objectively ugly.

Without all the gilded fru-fru it would be much nicer. I love the art of pietre dure. I think there is a village near Florence where nearly everyone is involved in the crafting of the stone mosaics.

I wonder what the buyer will keep in all those drawers? Spare change, a Swiss Army knife, some condoms....?

I tend to think it's ugly, but then, it might be cool to be able to show it to people when they visit. When they ask what it's for, you get to say: "You put your weed in there, man."

Okay I give up.

I tried to find a link between Douglas Admas and the third duke of Somerset; wondered if Majikthise ever spoke about a particularly ugly cabinet (perhaps one that occupied all the thoughts in Vroomfondel's head), and can find nothing. All that comes up is a reference to a cabinet early in the first book, when Arthur explains where he found the "public" notice that an expressway was being built and his house would therefore need demolishing:

PROSSER: But you found the notice, didn’t you?

ARTHUR: Yes, I did. It was "on display" in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, "Beware of the Leopard."

But I'm quite sure that this is not the hidden reason that the story of the Badminton Cabinet is here. In fact, I'm beginning to believe that there is no hidden reason at all. But I'll keep looking anyway…

Good point, Kraorh. But why stop at weed? A super-rich person could have a whole pharmacy with all those little drawers.

It may be an ugly cabinent but I think that thing full of weed would be one of the most beautiful things I could imagine.

The Voluptuary’s Cabinet: a beloved repository for dark fetishes and the collected portraits of secret lovers.

Lordie... the thing is tall enough to use the back to hold a regulation basketball standard! Too bad there isn't a regulation-sized English maid with a feather duster standing alongside for comparison...
I kinda like it- when I take off my glasses and let my astigmatism take over, it looks as if the drawers were filled with stars, planets, and other celestial objects. I wonder what the drawers smell like... ^..^

If you need to move it, I'm busy.

it is the ugliest thing i ever seen

That cabinet might be worth a lot of money in the future so I'd hold on to it even though it's the ugliest one i've ever seen. And I wouldn't use it in my house either because some people might be to scared to open it up or come near it.

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