Possible Alexander Roux Rosewood Sofa

by John Werry on September 13, 2008

I had a late night delivery of my most recent purchase a few nights ago.  No, it wasn’t an Alexander Roux sofa ca. 1853 as is shown above.

Picture six heavily-laden cardboard boxes being shuffled into the basement under cover of night through the bilco door, an exchange of cash, and a vehicle driving away.

No, nothing nefarious was transpiring.  I purchased 300-400 (haven’t counted yet) copies of “Magazine Antiques” going back to the 1920s and had them delivered to my home.  I expect that I will find a fair amount of “lost” research that hasn’t made it into recent reference books and Rare Victorian visitors should be the beneficiaries.

I’ve only dug through one box so far and already I’ve separated out nine copies with 19th century furniture articles of interest.  I’m toying with listing the castaway copies for sale somewhere.

The February 1968 edition has an article on Alexander Roux titled, Alexander Roux and his “Plain and Artistic Furniture” and the photo above of Alexander Roux’s sofa at the Crystal Palace stood out for me.  Although I’ve most likely seen it before, seeing it again reminded me of a sofa that I had recently ran into in a local shop for about $1,000.

Both sofas have the Roux-style carved birds, though the one in the shop that I found has the birds surrounding a nest in the center crest and not placed as they are above.  And no, I’m not going to fall for the old familiar “has birds = Roux” attribution trap.  Seeing the similarities just makes me want to do some comparisons.  They are obviously not the same sofa but makers made many design variations and it’s worth some investigation.

Please excuse the camera phone photos but it was all I had at the time.  The birds and nest are very finely carved and the nest actually extends out from the sofa, floating in the air with three eggs.

I’m going to go back to the shop and study the carvings in a bit more detail and take a look at the front skirt and legs again as I didn’t take a photo of those areas.  Here’s a photo of the carvings leading to the arm.

Getting back to the Roux article, there are more enlightening photos in it, including a walnut armchair known to be by Roux that I had not seen before. It’s now imprinted in the memory banks.

Five more boxes to go.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad September 14, 2008 at 5:02 am

WOW, great find. the MA has some great articles by first rank scholar’s in their field. 1920s huh, geez, anything in there about israel sack or wallace nutting?

Any articles pertaining to EA furniture i would surely be interested in.


lynn September 14, 2008 at 10:00 am

What a find! I can’t wait to see what you discover. Hopefully some forgotten examples of Roux furniture…


RareVictorian September 14, 2008 at 6:45 pm


I thought of you when I was looking through them and seeing that Victorian was not in the pages of the magazine too much in the 20’s, 30s and 40s. That meant to me that EA should pop up somewhere. I’ll keep an eye out.

Lynn, there’s already a few Roux pictures in there I haven’t seen before, an oak cabinet, armchair and “light table”. Wish they’d let me post their photos here (I’ve asked in the past and got turned down).


james conrad September 16, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Yeah, the thing is, prior to Israel Sack and later Wallace Nutting, america and american’s had an inferiority complex about american furniture. It was considered crude and not worthy of collecting. Indeed, most major american museums had no american furniture wings in their collections prior to the 1920-30s.
These 2 men changed all that by tirelessly pushing american adaptations of european furniture designs. Without them, we would most likely all be posting about english this or french that on this blog. No decorative art form ever had better champions.


gary February 11, 2009 at 9:49 pm

To the person who thinks she has the Alexander Roux sofa. I do believe that I indeed have the Roux sofa that was at the Crystal
Palace. It is indeed a masterpiece of which few people have seen.
The carving is way above anything you have seen. I do have the arm chair that matches the settee that you bought. Which is a very nice piece. I do not think that yours is made by Roux. I believe that it could have been Mitchell Ramelsburg, but I could be wrong. The article I am refering to was wrote sept 13, 2008.
Thank You Gary


RareVictorian February 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Gary, can you send photos of your furniture to info @ rarevictorian.com?

What magazine are you referring to?


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