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This series of glazed display cabinets (Lots 11-14), originally of mahogany, were probably commissioned by John, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766-1839) to line the corridors around Henry Holland's courtyard in the East Wing, their Roman fluted pilasters echoing the architecture. Holland had already introduced pier cabinets into the Library, which are illustrated in situ in P.F. Robinson's Vitruvious Britannicus of 1827; these cabinets would therefore certainly concur with the 6th Duke's desire 'in every point of view to fulfil the best wishes of my dear departed brother'.
The authorship of these side cabinets and the date of their white painting is unknown. Whilst some of the State Rooms were undoubtedly redecorated for Queen Victoria's visit in 1841, the 'Flying' or 11th Duchess was also partial to painting furniture white. One of the four offered here bears an ivorine label for Messrs. Wells & Company (lot 12). Although George Wells, cabinet-maker and undertaker of High Street, Bedford is recorded in 1839, the use of the phrase 'House furnishers' would suggest a date post-1870, indicating that it was they who were called in to later decorate the set.
Designed with both two and four glazed doors, further examples remain at Woburn, including that on Public display in the Flying Duchess' Room.