Townley Commode acquired from Thomas Coulborn & Sons by Temple Newsam

We are proud to announce the sale of the Townley Commode to Leeds Museums & Galleries.

The Townley Commode dates from around 1770 and was commissioned by Charles Townley (1737-1805) of Townley Hall near Burnley in Lancashire. It will now be making its way back to its roots in the north of England where it will become part of the collection at Temple Newsam.


Speaking about the acquisition, Jonathan Coulborn said:

“This striking commode was born from Charles Townley’s love of antiquity and desire to own a beautiful object incorporating the designs, the spirit and the materials of the archaeological discoveries that fascinated the Grand Tourists of his time. It represents a unique testament to the neo-classical spirit of the late 18th century and to the legacy of Charles Townley, one of the era’s greatest antiquarians and collectors. The entire commode, from its precious hardstone and lava top purchased on one of his Grand Tours, to the designs for the neo-classical panels which came from Townley’s personal copy of 'Le Antichità di Ercolano', is the epitome of his passion for antiquities.


The acquisition has been funded by The Leeds Art Fund. The Fund’s Chair, Mark Westgarth commented:

“The Leeds Art Fund are absolutely delighted to support the acquisition of the Townley commode for the collections at Temple Newsam. Using funds from the Hurst Bequest, the Fund has been able to ensure that this highly-important object is accessible to the public and will be part of the world-class collections of decorative art at Temple Newsam.”


Adam Toole, Curator at Temple Newsam said: “I am thrilled that, thanks to the generosity of the Leeds Art Fund, Leeds Museums and Galleries are able to acquire this magnificent and important piece of furniture for Temple Newsam. Its craftsmanship and unique design are extraordinary, but so too are the opportunities the commode will present for our visitors. Being so imbued with the personality of Charles Townley and the spirit of the Grand Tour, it will cast light on Temple Newsam’s already fine late 18th century collections in exciting new ways.”


For more details about Charles Townley and the Townley Commode, click here.

For more information about Temple Newsam, click here.

8 December 2021