July 24 Art Minute: Augustus Welby Pugin, Piano

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Augustus Welby Pugin (British, 1812–1852), Piano. Carved oak case, brass candle arms, 1851. 65 1/2 inches by 53 inches by 29 3/4 inches. Purchased with funds from the Mr. and Mrs. George M. Jones, Jr., Fund, 1995.1. Gallery 31

Augustus Welby Pugin (British, 1812–1852), Piano. Carved oak case, brass candle arms, 1851. 65 1/2 inches by 53 inches by 29 3/4 inches. Purchased with funds from the Mr. and Mrs. George M. Jones, Jr., Fund, 1995.1. Gallery 31

The Victorian architect and designer Augustus Welby Pugin is often referred to as the “father of the Gothic Revival.” He is best known for his collaboration with Charles Barry on the 1835 design of the House of Parliament in London, considered a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture. Pugin popularized an updated, romanticized version of medieval design, helping to establish it as the national style in Victorian Britain.

This piano, with its carved oak Gothic motif and tracery, is probably one of two Pugin-designed pianos displayed in the Medieval Court at London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, the first World’s Fair. The pianos demonstrated that Gothic design could be successfully applied to modern forms of furniture.


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