CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

M.S. Rau Donates Henry Clay Armoire to the Cabildo

2 minute read

The Henry Clay Rosedown Plantation Armoire is an extremely rare and monumental Gothic Revival Rosewood "winged" armoire originally made by Crawford Riddell of Philadelphia for the White House (for the bedroom now known as the Lincoln Bedroom).

Crafted of the finest Brazilian rosewood (a species that is now extinct), the armoire is flanked by two gothic columns that open on the sides to hold clothes, hence the reference to a "winged" wardrobe. The center doors open to reveal more storage and an interior chest of drawers. Each section retains its original blue paint on the interior and the drawers are beautifully finished in Brazilian rosewood on the interior. The armoire is in excellent mint condition.

“The Henry Clay Armoire is probably one of the most important pieces of 19th century furniture in America,” said Mark Tullos, Director of the Louisiana State Museum. “We are grateful to Bill Rau and M.S. Rau Antiques for this very generous contribution and for helping to preserve this magnificent piece for future generations.”

The piece was commissioned by the supporters of Henry Clay during his bid for the Presidency in 1844. Though he fully expected to win the highly contested race, Clay lost the election to Democratic candidate James K. Polk.

After Clay barely lost his bid for the presidency, the prized bedroom suite was sold by Clay's supporters to Daniel Turnbull, the most affluent cotton planter in the South and reportedly one of the wealthiest men in America. Turnbull kept the bedroom suite at his renowned showpiece home, Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

The entire set, including the antique armoire, was moved into Turnbull's bedroom in 1845 where it remained until 2000. "We acquired this piece from the former owner shortly after the State of Louisiana purchased the Rosedown Plantation in 2000 and then sold it to a client," said Bill Rau, owner of M.S. Rau Antiques. "We are thrilled to have re-acquired this piece and have the opportunity to donate a piece with such historical value to such an important museum."

See more antique bedroom furniture pieces and antique armoires from M.S. Rau.

 

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