Upholstered beech side chair with painted leather covers.

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Identifier

FPF030

Title

Upholstered beech side chair with painted leather covers.

Date

1715-1720

Description

A beech side chair with high scrolled back, cabriole front legs, raked back legs and serpentine stretchers, the seat and back upholstered with painted leather covers.

Full Description

This beech side chair has a high rectangular back with a scrolled top and bottom, upholstered and covered in painted leather, nailed with domed nails to the front face of the posts. The back posts are exposed between the seat and back and are moulded. The back is upright, and the back legs, which are continuous with the back posts, are turned and steeply raked, with squared blocks at the joints and flared heels. The tapered seat is upholstered in the same painted leather, although it is more faded and worn; it is nailed with domed nails along the lower edges. The front of the seat is shaped to meet the tops of the front legs, which are diagonally set, moulded cabrioles and terminate in spade feet. There is an H-form wavy, moulded stretcher and a higher turned rear stretcher.

The high back, steeply raked back legs and cabriole front legs suggest a date for this chair of 1715 to 1720. The fashion for high-backed chairs developed in England in the 1690s and the raked back legs seen in this example became necessary from around 1710 to maintain stability. Cabriole legs began to be used in English furniture from around 1715, at first with this moulded form, and later rounded. As the name suggests, the idea of the cabriole leg was imported from France and developed from the earlier ‘horsebone’ form. The shaped back with a scrolled top is distinctive and bears comparison with a set of chairs with needlework covers made by Thomas Phill, the Royal upholsterer, and supplied to Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire in 1715 (Bowett, 2009).

The painted leather covers are 18th century but possibly not original to the chair; the back cover is made up of two sections and it is suggested the lower portion is the earlier (Wood, 2008). The top portion is presumed to be cut from a screen or wall-hanging and the decoration is in the chinoiserie style, which was popular in the 1730s to 1750s. The upholstery beneath the leather, including the webbing and base cloth, is original.

The angle of the back of the chair is unusually upright; it would probably have had a slight rake in its original form and has been altered as a result of a repair or restoration. The original back cover material would most likely have been nailed to the sides of the back posts, whereas here it is nailed to the front of the posts. The exposed portions of the back posts have been re-faced and it is also likely that the beech frame has lost its original finish; beech was a relatively inexpensive wood, compared to the more fashionable walnut, and was usually either japanned or stained and grained to simulate a more costly material. The front feet were replaced in the 1930s.

Condition

The painted leather is possibly not original to the chair; it may have been from a screen or wall hanging, c.1740. The leather is fragile, torn in places and has been much restored.
The back appears to have been repaired, now upright rather than raked.
The front feet were replaced in 1930.

Materials

Beech.
Upholstery.

Physical Dimensions

H. 119
W. 56
D. 56

Parker Numbers

4091

Provenance

Purchased by Frederick Parker & Sons, 6 March 1918 from Clifford for £12.10.0

Notes

Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture, Antiques Collectors Club, 2009, p.15, Plate 4:12.
Lucy Wood, The Upholstered Furniture in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Yale University Press, 2008 Vol. I, pp. 180-193. A set of chairs at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, covered with chinoiserie leather, is described in detail, with reference to this Frederick Parker Collection chair, see pp. 190-1, Fig. 132.
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