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Marriage chest: M.12-2005

An image of Marriage chest

© Wales & Wales. Photograph copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

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Object information


Wales & Wales (Maker)


Marriage chest with hinged lid, of bog oak and natural oak, the front of fumed and limed slats with stainless steel inlay on the left, the interior back panel painted bright red, and the interior front and side panels, and the underside of the lid painted royal blue.

Bog oak and natural oak, the front and sides of fumed and limed slats with stainless steel inlay on the viewer’s left of the front. The interior back panel is painted bright red, and the interior front and sides painted royal blue. Of deep, straight-sided rectilinear form wth slanted sides. The back panel extends on the viewer’s right so that the red is visible on the exterior, and there is a recessed red strip along the front lower edge, except for a short distance on the viewer’s left. The hinged lid has a curved apron at the front, and is cut on the slant about a third of the way from the viewer’s left end, leaving a space for the display of an object. The steel inlay comprises square and rectangular strips disposed on either side of a central line


History note: Commissioned by Nicholas Goodison with the prize awarded to him in 2004 by CINOA (La Conféderation Internationale des Négociants en Oeurvres d’Art) for a lifetime of achievement in the arts.

Legal notes

Gift of Nicholas Goodison through the National Art Collections Fund

Measurements and weight

Height: 84 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Chiddingly ⪼ Sussex ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2005-07-18) by Goodison, Nicholas


Early 21st Century
Elizabeth II
Production date: AD 2004


Text from object entry in A. Game (2016) ‘Contemporary British Crafts: The Goodison Gift to the Fitzwilliam Museum’. London: Philip Wilson Publishers: Sir Nicholas Goodison was the first winner, in 2004, of the prize awarded by CINOA (La Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Arts) for lifetime contribution to the arts. He chose to spend the prize money commissioning a piece of contemporary furniture for The Fitzwilliam Museum from Wales & Wales. He also contributed towards the cost of recording Rod and Alison Wales’ life stories, including the progress of the commission, by National Life Stories, the oral history charity at the British Library, as part of their projects to record the lives of contemporary artists and craftspeople. It was agreed, after Rod and Alison Wales had visited the museum, that they should design and make a marriage chest, echoing The Fitzwilliam’s Renaissance cassoni (such as MAR.M.209-1912), which were customarily given to brides upon their marriage. Wales & Wales were asked to respond to the colours used in such chests as well as in the Museum’s Renaissance paintings. Sir Nicholas specified that there should be a space on top of the chest for the placing of a piece of sculpture or craft, which accounts for the foreshortened bog oak lid. Wales & Wales’s first proposal was for a low chest, echoing the dimensions of the cassoni, but Sir Nicholas asked for a design with more height, fearing that a low chest would be overlooked in the space. He also asked for brighter colours – closer to the saturated reds and blues used by Renaissance painters to depict the Queen of Heaven – and suggested steel inlays set in the fumed oak panel. The design and making of the chest are fully explained in Rod Wales, ‘Love and Marriage’, Furniture and Cabinet Making (Autumn 2005), pp.35–9: and the makers also produced a CD-ROM for the Museum recording both the design process (drawings and computer modelling) and the significant stages in the construction. Wales & Wales is the business partnership of Rod Wales and his wife Alison. Rod Wales studied at John Makepeace’s Parnham College between 1978 and 1980 and Rycotewood College (1975–77). Alison studied at Reading Unversity (1970–74) and Rycotewood (1978–79) and worked briefly in John Makepeaces’s workshop at Parnham (1980–81). They set up their workshop at Muddles Green near Chiddingly, East Sussex in 1981. Their furniture has won numerous awards and is well represented in museums, including Cheltenham, Gateshead, Manchester and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. They work with architects and private clients internationally. They also design outdoor and street furniture, which is licensed to Benchmark furniture and, increasingly in recent years, design furniture for retailers such as John Lewis and Joined and Jointed. Rod and Alison Wales: ‘Our work is characterised by a robust, unelaborated elegance rooted in a pragmatic understanding of materials and processes. We bring to our work a particular sense of visual personality, yet thrive on the disciplines required by client, market, product type, materials, technology and the other constraints that define a brief.’ A life history interview with Rod and Alison Wales is available at

Wales & Wales are Alison and Rod Wales.

Components of the work

Interior composed of paint ( red and blue) Inlay composed of stainless steel Near Centre Depth 54.2 cm
At Front Width 115.2 cm
At Back Width 121.5 cm
Front And Sides Front

Materials used in production

Bog oak Oak

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.12-2005
Primary reference Number: 118970
Entry form number: 632
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 22 December 2020 Last processed: Thursday 1 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Marriage chest" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-07-07 03:38:09

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{{cite web|url= |title=Marriage chest |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-07-07 03:38:09|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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