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Morel & Seddon

Bath cabinet 1828

Purplewood, satinwood, pietra dura, gilt bronze, marble | 102.0 x 231.0 x 115.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 74428

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  • The French cabinet-maker and upholsterer Nicholas Morel (fl.1790-1830), who had first worked for George IV at Carlton House in the 1790s, was appointed in July 1826 to furnish the new royal apartments at Windsor Castle, then being extensively remodelled by Sir Jeffry Wyatville. Less than a year later Morel had dissolved his old partnership with Robert Hughes (fl.1805-30) and formed a new one with George Seddon (1769-1857) whose well-established family firm, based at Aldersgate Street, was probably the only one large enough to cope with this immense commission. Over the next three years, the partners' bills totalled £203,963 6s. 8d. This was easily the largest sum ever devoted to a single furnishing scheme in this country. The ensuing Parliamentary Select Committee strongly criticised the way the commission had been supervised and reduced Morel & Seddon's bill by £24,662 7s. 6d. George IV's combined bedroom and bathroom, on the east side of the Upper Ward of the Castle, was one of the most adventurously planned and decorated of all the new rooms. It was hung like a tent with blue silk, and both bed and bath were contained in mirror-lined recesses, the design of which was approved by the King in July 1827. The 'late Empire' elements in the design of both the bed and the bath cabinet reflect the involvement at Windsor of the distinguished Parisian cabinet-maker François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (1770-1841), whose firm had earlier supplied a cylinder desk - also selected for the new bedroom - in a closely related style. However, the King's highly eclectic approach to interior decoration, involving Italian, French and English pieces, frustrated any further attempts to bring coherence to the furnishings of the room. For the decoration of the bath cabinet, in effect a three-sided box on rollers covering the actual bath, it seems likely that Morel & Seddon used the eighteenth-century pietra dura panels from a rosewood cabinet made in 1810 by Tatham & Bailey for Carlton House. In 1829 the King decided to move his bed into an adjacent room. The bath cabinet, which must always have been awkward to use, was put into store and by 1866 it had been converted into a folio cabinet. It was loaned to the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1976 to 1999.

    Part of the group of furniture and furnishings supplied between 1827 and 1829 to King George IV by the partnership of Morel and Seddon for His Majesty’s Bedroom at Windsor Castle. Cost was £924, with a table; Morel & Seddon Accounts, no. 294); 22 peitra dura plaques were sent from Carlton House to Morel & Seddon on 12 May 1827 together with the original cabinet made by Tatham & Bailey in 1810. The cabinet converted to accommodate a bath delivered 4 July 1828.

    Converted, again, before 1866 into a folio cabinet with the addition of a slide into the frieze and folding door to the back. In the Prince Consort's Library at Buckingham Palace in 1875 when it was photographed (RCIN 2103823)

  • Medium and techniques

    Purplewood, satinwood, pietra dura, gilt bronze, marble


    102.0 x 231.0 x 115.0 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative title(s)

    George IV Bath cabinet

  • Place of Production