Skip to Content
Today Open today 10–11 members | 11–5 public


Black wood sideboard with skinny poles holding cabinets, brass trim.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Black wood sideboard with skinny poles holding cabinets, brass trim.


Designed 1867, made c. 1876


Designed by Edward William Godwin
English, 1833-1886
Made by William Watt
English, 1834-1885
London, England

About this artwork

Celebrated as the “poet of architects and architect of all the arts,” Edward William Godwin was a man of many accomplishments. In a career that spanned more than thirty-five years, he was an architect of civic, domestic, and ecclesiastical buildings; an innovative interior decorator and designer of furniture, textiles, and theater sets; and an articulate critic of art and architecture. Godwin first designed his ebonized sideboard, of which this is a variant model, for his own dining room in 1867, and he subsequently reconsidered the form over the next two decades. In its appearance, the sideboard represents a turning away from the weight of contemporary Gothic Revival aesthetics and a move toward a reductionist sensibility expressed through the balance of solids and voids. This spare style gained Godwin some notable contemporary clients, among them James McNeill Whistler and Oscar Wilde. In his 1904 study The English House, the influential German critic Hermann Muthesius wrote that Godwin’s furniture, including this sideboard, foreshadowed the more modern look that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century. While calling Godwin’s creations “wildly picturesque,” Muthesius concluded that the overall effect was “one of elegance.”


On View, Gallery 246


Applied Arts of Europe


Edward William Godwin (Designer)




England (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1871–1881


Ebonized mahogany with glass and silvered brass


181.6 × 255.3 × 50.2 cm (71 1/2 × 100 1/2 × 19 3/4 in.) (with leaves e×tended)

Credit Line

Robert Allerton, Harry and Maribel G. Blum, Mary and Leigh Block, Mary Waller Langhorne, Mrs. Siegfried G. Schmidt, Tillie C. Cohn, Richard T. Crane, Jr. Memorial, Eugene A. Davidson, Harriott A. Fox, Florence L. Notter, Kay and Frederick Krehbiel endowment funds; European Decorative Arts Purchase Fund;Irving and June Seaman Endowment Fund; through prior acquisition of the Reid Martin Estate

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions