Octagonal Table

Octagonal Table, c. 1821
George Bullock (c.1777–1818)
Wood, walnut
RC546

Dining Room 

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Octagonal Table

When Napoleon was exiled in 1815 to St Helena, a small island located west of the coast of south-western Africa, after defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and his final surrender, both his residence and the furniture were provided by the British Government.

Much of the furniture in Longwood House was designed by George Bullock. Bullock is celebrated as one of the most innovative cabinet-makers active during the Regency period. It is his individualistic ability as a designer that distinguishes the furniture and interiors created in his workshop from the work of his contemporaries. However, he started his career as a sculptor.  He is first recorded as a cabinet-maker in Liverpool in 1804, in partnership with William Stoakes. But it is largely on the basis of his brief London period that his reputation depends.  During those years he supplied furniture and interiors to patrons including Queen Charlotte, Sir Walter Scott and the British Government.

The octangle table is inlaid with a central octagonal plate inscribed with ‘Napoleon, Longwood, 1821, St. Helena’. This item is specifically listed in the 1908 Deed of Gift between the Russell-Cotes’ and the Borough of Bournemouth as being in the Morning Room. Merton Russell-Cotes states in his autobiography, ‘Home and Abroad’, that he purchased this table from Christies and that it had been the property of the Empress Eugenie. Her husband, Napoleon III, had bought Longwood but not before some of the contents had been sold.

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