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Levien, J. H. (1844-1865)

Levien, J. H.

Davies Street, London; cabinet makers (fl.1844-1865)

Originally from Berlin, Levien visited New Zealand in 1840, where he set up a timber yard in Wellington. In 1848 the Society of Arts awarded him a medal for ‘the introduction and application of New Zealand woods to furniture’.  He specialised in elaborate work in the Pompeian style and in geometric marquetry of natural woods. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 he exhibited a massive carved sideboard in exotic New Zealand woods, carved with vignettes of Victoria and Albert by Lovati in boxwood, a satinwood escritoire and a jewel cabinet. He also exhibited a mosaic table top in the finest woods, some from New Zealand at the 1855 Paris exhibition and at the London International Exhibition of 1862 the firm displayed a cabinet in the Pompeian style and a sideboard, similar to the 1851 one (all these illus. Meyer (2006), pp. 19, 61, 104, 152 & 167). Fourteen different woods were used in the 1862 cabinet: ebony, orange wood, purple wood, red sandal, amboynas, satinwood, pollard oak, harewood, sycamore, green maple, pear tree, walnut, holly (stained and natural) and coconut wood. The two incised figures in the door panels were of ivory. 

Sources: Aslin, 19th Century English Furniture (1962); Symonds and Whineray, Victorian Furniture (1962); Meyer, ‘Trollope and Sons – Makers and Exhibitors of Fine Furniture’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2006); Meyer, Great Exhibitions. London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia.  1851-1900 (2006).