Fine Arts & Crafts Cupboard by the Sought After Armitage to be Offered
George Faulkner Armitage (1849-1937) was a prolific Victorian architect and Arts & Crafts Furniture designer, who lived and worked in Manchester and London. Famous for his beautifully carved court cupboards and sideboards, he was commissioned by the Fine Art Society to design furniture and interiors for their showrooms. His antique cabinets, with their molded cornices and overlapping friezes of finely carved sunflowers, are highly sought after.
Armitage was born in Altrincham to a wealthy mill owner, who founded the Armitage & Rigby cotton milling company. His mill in Warrington was one of the largest in Lancashire. Armitage, however, decided to study architecture instead. Having qualified, he opened a studio at his home in Altrincham, later opening more studios in Manchester and London.
Much of Armitage’s early Arts & Crafts Furniture was made in Lancashire and Cheshire. He oversaw the design of his Stamford House studio, designing elements in both wood and metal. One of his first commissions was for the pulpit of Warrington’s Wycliffe Congregational Church, in 1873. He worked on designs for Mansfield College, with Basil Champneys, before being commissioned by Charles Nevill to redesign the interiors of Bramall Hall in Cheshire.
Although George Faulkner Armitage was considered to be of the Gothic Revival school, he was more heavily influenced by the Arts & Crafts Furniture movement. His Bramall Hall interiors are defined by light colored woods, organic motifs and simple harmony of design – all elements of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Armitage then re-decorated the interiors of the Liverpool Reform Club, before undertaking London commissions for the Devonshire Club and the Fine Art Society, the exteriors of which were modelled by Edward William Godwin.
Armitage entered his antique cabinets into a number of exhibitions in England and Paris, including the 1882 Manchester Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition, and the Manchester Jubilee Exhibition of 1887. In 1899 he won a gold medal for his work on the British Council Chamber in Paris. He later became Mayor of Altrincham from 1914-1918.
Armitage’s Victorian dining chairs and antique cabinets are among the finest of their kind, a perfect balance between Victorian gothic and the rustic simplicity of the Arts & Crafts furniture movement.
We have for auction on November 15th a wonderful example of Armitage’s work. Lot #44, A Fine Arts and Crafts Carved Oak Court Cupboard of substantial scale. It has a large overhanging balustrade cornice, above an arched backboard with carved flower-head panels, over a central convex mirror within scrolling pod carving at the corners. This is flanked by glazed cabinet doors over mirrored back panels divided by sunflower sections. Above the lower section, it is fitted with a central pair of cupboard doors above an arcaded nice; flanked by a pair of short drawers, above paneled cupboard doors, above arch supports, and raised on bun feet; the whole carved with Vitruvian scrolls, sunflowers, and acanthus corbels and fitted with gilt-metal floral cast handles.
Height: 104 ½”; Width: 80”; Depth: 24” – Auction Estimate: $800-1,200