Through the looking glass – identifying W. H. Rocke & Co’s second Melbourne International Exhibition 1880 drawing-room cabinet, Andrew Montana
Objects and art shown at international exhibitions always attract a premium. Often, they really were ‘showpieces’, specially made to demonstrate the maker’s skills, ability and cutting-edge design. Three room suites of W. H. Rocke’s furniture displayed at the prestigious Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880 were illustrated in some of the contemporary newspapers, while half a dozen examples have been acquired by Melbourne museums, so their forms are already broadly familiar. Dr Andrew Montana discovered an 1880s photograph which shows a cabinet, originally from the 1880 Melbourne Exhibition, in a real domestic interior. He discusses this cabinet as well as other surviving examples of W.H. Rocke’s exhibition furniture.
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