Walnut side chair with caned seat and back.





Walnut side chair with caned seat and back.


1680-1700 and later


A caned side chair in walnut with turned banister back posts, the back panels, crest rail and front stretcher carved with acanthus scrolls and crowns.

Full Description

A walnut side chair with caned seat and back, the back posts of turned banister form with finials and the back comprised of panels and a crest rail carved and pierced with scrolled acanthus leaves and a crown at the centre of each. The back is raked slightly, and the back legs, which are continuous with the posts, are turned and have flared heels to add stability. The seat rails are carved with leaves and are morticed into the legs. The front legs are turned at the top and double scrolled below, the upper scroll shaped in an early form of ‘horsebone’; there are turned button feet. The legs are braced with a front stretcher, carved and pierced to match the back panels, and H stretchers turned with balusters and reels with squared blocks at the joints, and a higher rear stretcher, also turned. The seat and back are caned.

This chair is not quite what it seems. The carved back panels and crest rail are original and would have been from a chair made between between 1685 and 1700. The rest of the chair is a skilful reproduction, carried out within the workshops of Frederick Parker & Sons in the 1930s. The chair was purchased by Parkers in 1930 and it seems likely it was in poor condition and required partial reconstruction; the newer turning and carving is well balanced and consistent with the style of the original parts in the back. The new work has been distressed and stained in an attempt to blend it in with the earlier pieces.

Double scrolls and crowns first appear on English chairs in the mid-1680s and were popular until around 1700. ‘Banister’ back posts, so called because they look rather like banisters from a staircase, were introduced in around 1690, replacing the earlier fashion for twist turning. The front legs are of a double scroll form with a slight emphasis to the top scroll on each leg; this is an early form of what became known as the ‘horsebone’ scroll, which had a very pronounced reverse cut to the top scroll. The ‘horsebone’ leg first appeared on chairs in the late 1680s (Bowett, 2002).

Caned chairs, and indeed upholstered chairs, went through a series of quite distinct design changes during a period of 60 years, from around 1665 to 1725. The making of these chairs in England was concentrated in London, mainly in and around St Paul’s Cathedral. Many were made for the Royal Household, as evidenced in the royal accounts, but the great majority were made for the increasingly fashion-conscious merchants and tradesmen, not just in London but across the country and abroad, in New England and on the Continent. They are listed in the inventories and wills of such people, indicating that they were frequently bought in sets; often sets of 12 chairs are mentioned. In many instances the documents show that caned chairs were used with cushions, or ‘squabs’ (Dewing, 2008).

For a comparable chair in the Collection see FPF013.


The back panels and crest rail are original; the rest of the chair is a reproduction made by Frederick Parker & Sons in the 1930s.



Physical Dimensions

H. 114
W. 51
D. 51

Parker Numbers

Marked on rear seat rail: U 1905. 12/3788


Purchased by Frederick Parker & Sons, 1930, cost £8.17.6.


See Adam Bowett, English Furniture 1660-1714, Antique Collectors Club, 2002. For a chair with similar carving in the back panels see p. 99, Plate 3:53.
See also David Dewing, Cane Chairs, Their Manufacture and Use in London, 1670-1730, Regional Furniture, Vol. XXII, 2008.