"This is my masterpiece. I call it Tomie."
-Main Staircase, Opera Garnier, Paris, France
Sofa, J.H. Belter and Company, c.1856, New York, carved solid and laminated rosewood, with varnished chestnut or oak strengthening blocks, upholstered silk damask (not original), Victoria and Albert Museum.
The flowers, leaves and berries which adorn this beautiful, ostentatious sofa, were inspired by Rococo designs from the mid-eighteenth century. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Rococo style enjoyed a revival. In the US, this revival was led by John Henry Belter, a German born designer whose inventive style is epitomised by this sofa.
This is my favourite piece from the V&A’s new Furniture Gallery. I love the sumptuous dark hue of the wood, the intricate carving and the presence the sofa has in the gallery.
Illustrations from the latest project: Book illustrations of Sherlock Holmes, Sign of the four