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Beck, Arnold Frederick (1763-1777)

Beck, Arnold Frederick

London, cabinet maker and musical instrument maker (fl. 1763–77)

Beck insured his household goods and stock for £150 and wearing apparel for £50 on 2 August 1763 [Guildhall Library, ref. 201685, p. 483]. 

Possibly the maker of pianofortes (dated 1775 and 1777) who was located at Broad Street, Golden Square, and is thought to have employed a cabinet maker in his firm to make instrument cases. He may, however, have gone to one of the specialist inlayers for some of the mahogany panels. Eight pieces are attributed to ‘Beck's cabinet-maker’, and three more bear marquetry medallions by the medallion marqueteur’ who seems to have worked for him.

Known pieces include a square piano in marquetry case by Frederick Beck at Lady Lever Gallery, Liverpool, and a pair of semicircular commodes at Osterley Park, Middlesex, bearing marquetry medallions. The central medallion of one, showing Diana seated with one of her hounds, is repeated on an unusual fall-front commode sold from the collection of Earl Temple, Sotheby's, 9 May 1941, lot 101. Lot 100 was a similar commode, probably from the same shop.

Characteristic marquetry style of intricate contours of veneer and nervous engraved lines in draperies; fleurette-and-trellis marquetry [illus. in Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. 2, p. 6, fig. 11].

Sources: C. Streeter, Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum Bulletin, June 1971; Burlington, June 1980; M. Debenham & M. Cole, 'Marquetry Cabinets Containing Newly Fashionable Pianofortes Made in Eighteenth-Century London: The Cabinet Maker’s Pianoforte — or the Pianoforte Maker’s Cabinet?' in The London Journal, vol. 43, issue 3, Jan. 2018.

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.