X-framed walnut armchair with upholstered back and seat cushion.

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Identifier

FPF026

Title

X-framed walnut armchair with upholstered back and seat cushion.

Date

1840-1860, with 17th century arms.

Description

X-framed walnut armchair with upholstered back and seat cushion, 19th century reproduction with 17th century arms.

Full Description

Although this appears at first sight to be a 16th or 17th century chair, it is a 19th century reproduction; the only period elements are the carved walnut arms which are late 17th century and probably Continental.

The chair has an arch-shaped, fully upholstered back, with the top of the arch dipped. The back-cloth is partially torn, exposing part of the frame, which appears to be beech. The back posts extend from the tops of the X-frame, and where they are exposed below the line of the upholstered back they are stained to resemble walnut. The 17th century arms are down-swept and end in full scrolls; they are finely carved with acanthus leaves at the shoulders and towards the front, each with a beaded channel along the top. The front X-frame is similarly carved with acanthus leaves and beading and ends in scrolled feet matching the arms; the upper and lower sections of the frame meet with a large carved roundel. The back frame is simpler, with plain squared elements, and the frames are joined with an H-stretcher turned with balusters and rings, and with squared blocks at the side joints. There is also a plain turned dowel running from front to back below the seat to provide additional support to the frame. The stuff-over seat is fitted across the frame and has a loose deep cushion. The cover is faded gold velvet with braided trimming and fringing, probably early 20th century.

X-framed chairs derive from antiquity; in their Roman form they are known as ‘curule’ chairs and were always associated with high status. They were revived in the Renaissance period for heads of church and state, referred to as ‘Savonarola’ chairs in Northern Italy. In their early form they were made to fold, which made them easier to transport as their owners travelled across their areas of jurisdiction. Authentic early chairs are rare (Beard, 1997, Bowett, 2002 and Chinnery, 1995), but reproductions became popular as part of the Romantic movement in the early 19th century. This example combines a medieval form with late 17th-century arms and a type of stretcher which echoes those of English chairs from 1690-1720. The arms would probably have been from a high-back upholstered armchair of around 1680, not unlike that illustrated in Bowett, p.105.

The chair was bought by Frederick Parker & Sons in Rouen in 1926, when it was probably thought to be a genuine 17th century chair. Parkers made a replica of it in c.1935 which is now in the collection, see FPF377. See also FPF028 and 467 for further examples of X-frame chairs.

Materials

Walnut.
Beech.
Upholstery.

Physical Dimensions

H. 100
W. 61
D. 62

Parker Numbers

Painted inside seat rail 26/6275/3244.

Provenance

Purchased by Frederick Parker & Sons, 1926, in Rouen, France, for 250 Francs

Notes

Geoffrey Beard, Upholsterers and Interior Furnishing in England, 1530-1840, Yale, 1997, pp.68-80.
Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture, The British Tradition, Antique Collectors’ Club, 1997, pp. 126-8
Adam Bowett, English Furniture 1660-1714, From Charles II to Queen Anne, Antique Collectors’ Club, 2002, p.68 and p.105, Plate 3:61.
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