Cabinets back where they belong

The world's only pair of 'Sun King' Cucci Cabinets, commissioned exclusively for the palace of Versailles in the 17th Century, have been reinstated in the 1000 year old Alnwick Castle following an intensive restoration programme.
The world's only pair of 'Sun King' Cucci Cabinets, commissioned exclusively for the palace of Versailles in the 17th Century, have been reinstated in the 1000 year old Alnwick Castle following an intensive restoration programme.
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A PAIR of exclusive cabinets has been reinstated at Alnwick Castle after an intensive restoration programme.

The Sun King Cucci cabinets were commissioned exclusively for the palace of Versailles in the 17th century.

Before their renovation they had not left the Castle since 1930 and have been absent for a year and a half while conservator Yannick Chastang restored them to their highly extravagant former glory.

A combination of wood and hard stone marquetry makes them extra sensitive to climatic change and air pollution. During their time away from Alnwick, one of the cabinets also appeared in an exhibition at the London Victoria and Albert Museum and in Versailles.

Castle collections manager Lisa Little said: “It is hugely exciting for us to see the Cucci cabinets reinstated in Alnwick Castle. They are one of the gems of our collection and have always been a huge hit with visitors, thanks to their intricate design and fascinating gilded glamour,

“While the cabinets were on their travels, the Red Drawing Room, their home in the early 20th century, was also refurbished. It looked beautiful but not quite complete without the cabinets so now the effect of the restored Cucci pieces in the newly-renovated drawing room is just superb.”

The cabinets’ restoration included cleaning the mercury gilded bronze mounts which had oxidised, securing the intricate inlays which had lifted and re-applying the hard stone decoration.

Yannick said: “This was a real labour of love and the opportunity to work with such exquisite examples of Cucci design was wonderful.

“Probably the biggest challenge was the monkey marquetry panel – the centre piece of the cabinet – because we had to remove it completely to replace the wax adhesive.”

The cabinets were bought by the third Duke of Northumberland in 1822 for Northumberland House, his London home. When this house was demolished in 1874, they were removed and soon after delivered to Alnwick Castle.