The center panels of the sideboard in the Gothic Revival style are decorated with a tongue-in-cheek homage to the fictitious "Saint Bacchus," picturing the "saint" (named for the Roman god of wine) arguing with figures representing the nonalcoholic beverages of "Water, Ginger Beer, and Soda Water"; his martyrdom by being squeezed to death in a wine press; and finally, pilgrims venerating his earthly remains contained in a wine barrel. Heads representing alcoholic drinks—"Cyder," "Ale," "Sherry," and "Port"—decorate the doors on either side, and a lively frieze of cats chasing mice embellishes the base of the cabinet.
Artist William Burges, English, 1827-1881
Maker Harland and Fisher, English
Maker Thomas Morten, English, 1836-1866
Maker N. H. J. Westlake, English, 1833-1921
  • "Saint Bacchus" Sideboard
Date 1858
Medium Stained, painted and gilded wood with marble and iron mounts
Dimensions Overall: 40 × 53 × 15 7/8 inches (101.6 × 134.6 × 40.3 cm)
Overall: 41 1/2 × 54 3/4 × 17 inches (105.4 × 139.1 × 43.2 cm)
Overall: 19 1/2 × 20 inches (49.5 × 50.8 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Cunningham
Accession Number F82.50
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View British S3AA, Level 3 (see map)
Marks Marks, carved on the upper right top surface of the chest, underneath the marble top: H [probably for cabinetmaker Harland and Fisher, 33 Southampton Street, Strand, London, England.]
1858, Herbert George Yatman (London, England);
ca. 1957, (Art market, Rome, Italy);
1957-1982, Mr. and Mrs. M. E. Cunningham (Birmingham, Michigan, USA);
1982-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Crook, J. William Burges and the High Victorian Dream. Chicago, 1981, pp. 296, 407, note 35. [reference to Burges, W. "Abstract of Diaries." Unpublished manuscript, 1858.]

Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 93, E 8, p. 27.

Towne Hufford, S. "The 'St. Bacchus' Sideboard: A New Piece of Furniture by William Burges." The Burlington Magazine 128, no. 999 (1986): 407-412 (ill.).

Gere, C. and M. Whiteway. Nineteenth-Century Design from Pugin to Mackintosh. London and New York, 1993, p. 89.

Zelleke, G. "Telling Stories in the Gothic Vein: William Burges and the Art of Painted Furniture." Objects of Desire: Victorian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Museum Studies 31, no. 1 (1995): p. 27, fig. 9 (ill.).