M962.16.1.1-13 | Sideboard

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About 1867-1868, 19th century
Wood; marble; glass; Assembled
90 x 55 cm
Bequest of Miss Sophia L. Elliot
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Sideboard (4)
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Keys to History

The Victorian interior is often described as overcrowded. Much has been said about an aesthetic that seemingly celebrated an eclectic mixing of materials, patterns, textures and styles. This black walnut sideboard is in the Renaissance revival style. Some may dismiss the carved lions and dead rabbits as ill-conceived, but in fact, the design followed a "functional" theme--food. Since the sideboard was destined for a dining room, it was carved with animals, dead game, vegetables, grapes and vine leaves. As Victorian furniture was designed to impress, it was ornate and costly. In 1840 Edgar Allan Poe suggested, "The cost of an article of furniture has at length come to be . . . nearly the sole test of its merit in a decorative point of view."

Edgar Allan Poe, cited in Robert Bishop and Patricia Coblentz, The World of Antiques, Art, and Architecture in Victorian America (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1979), p. 131.

Conrad Graham, Sarah Ivory and Robert Derome, Eclectic Tastes: Fine and Decorative Arts from the McCord (Montreal: McCord Museum, 1992), p. 104-5.

  • What

    This sideboard is made of a mixture of materials: it has a pine carcass with black walnut and burl walnut veneers, and is trimmed with marble and glass.

  • Where

    Hot serving dishes could be placed on the marble top, which was made in a different atelier than the carved sideboard.

  • When

    This piece of furniture was made in Quebec about 1867-68.

  • Who

    The carved sideboard is not signed, but the marble is stamped "G. Forsyth / Canada / Marble Works / 60 Bleury St / Montreal."