High banister-back walnut side chair with caned seat and back.

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High banister-back walnut side chair with caned seat and back.




High banister-back walnut side chair with caned seat and back, carved crest rail and front stretcher.

Full Description

This high-back walnut chair has an elaborately carved and pierced crest rail of scrolls and leaves surrounding a single arch. The crest rail is fitted onto the tops of the back posts, which are continuous with the back legs, and are baluster-turned with squared blocks at the rail, seat and stretcher joints. The back is angled back from the seat, and the legs are raked with heels to provide stability. Between the back posts and below the crest there are two vertical panels and a cross rail, all with channel mouldings, enclosing a caned panel. The caned seat frame is joined into the back posts and the front legs are dowel-jointed into the underside. The front legs are baluster-turned at the top and ‘horsebone’ shaped below, set on the diagonal, terminating with scrolls and turned feet. Between the front legs there is an elaborately carved and pierced stretcher to match the crest rail. The legs are joined by an H-form stretcher: the side stretchers are turned with squared blocks at the joints with back legs and cross stretcher, and turned ends at the joints with the front legs. The cross stretcher is carved and pierced in the form of a double arch laid flat, with a central turned finial.

At first sight this appears to be a good example of the fashionable tall-backed caned chairs of the early 18th century, with a finely carved crest rail and front stretcher to match. On close inspection, however, the chair has been extensively restored (see under Condition below); much of this work may have been carried out in the early 19th century when there was a revival of interest in furniture of this period, and further repairs may have been undertaken by Parkers in the early 20th century.

In its original form it would have been an expensive choice of chair, due to the quality of the carving and the fine canework, which was achieved by using thinly cut cane woven through closely spaced holes in the frames. The date of the chair is likely to be after 1709, since the practice of fitting the crest rail on top of the back posts, the ‘superimposed crest rail’ as described by Adam Bowett, has not been found on documented chairs earlier than the 1709 Bishop Compton chair in St Paul’s Cathedral (Bowett, 2002). The additional height achieved with the tall crest rail required balancing by increasing the rake of the back legs. The fashion for these extremely tall chairs had begun to fade by around 1720.

The chair is stamped with the initials IM on the back leg. This probably identified the joiner responsible for the chair, which would have been the work of several craftsmen, including a turner, carver and basketmaker, coordinated by a joiner. It was almost certainly made in London, since this was virtually the only place where such chairs were produced (Dewing, 2008).


The crest rail is replaced.
The right back panel has been repaired to support caning.
The lower back rail is replaced.
All the seat rails are replaced.
The right front leg is replaced.
The back legs are re-tipped.
The medial cross stretcher and finial are replaced.
The stretchers are supported with iron brackets.
The caning in the seat and back has been replaced.



Physical Dimensions

H. 133
W. 46
D. 45


Stamped with initials IM on right back leg.

Parker Numbers



Purchased by Frederick Parker & Sons in 1914 for £8.0.0 from Kennedy.


Adam Bowett, English Furniture 1660-1714, From Charles II to Queen Anne, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2002, pp. 262-4.
David Dewing, Cane Chairs, Their Manufacture and Use in London, 1670-1730, Regional Furniture, Vol XXII, 2008.
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