Pair of Neo-Classical Open Armchairs After a design by Thomas Chippendale


A pair of giltwood open armchairs after designs by Thomas Chippendale.  Each chair having padded oval backs, arms, and bow-fronted seats upholstered in a floral-patterned silk damask, the back with an entrelac border and central patera surrounded by a ribbon-tied laurel wreath, the arms on down-scrolled channeled supports with half trails of wheat husks, and the fluted seat rail with oval paterae to each corner, the front legs tapered and fluted with circlets of beads above wide convex collars and lotus-clasp feet, the back legs slightly raked and with scrolled feet.

19th Century

overall height: 36.5 inches (92.7 cm);
height to seat 16.5 inches (41.9cm);
width 23.5 inches (59.7cm);
depth 19.5 inches (49.5cm)

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Such chairs were usually intended for drawing rooms and the rooms of the grand apartments of large houses.  They were often made in pairs or sometimes as multiples for large sets. With their carved and gilded frames and patterned silk damask upholstery, such chairs were hugely decorative and very striking.  The 18th Century designers often referred to them as ‘French Chairs’.

A single chair of identical appearance is listed in a Christie’s 1996 Fine Furniture Sale. The catalogue entry gives further background to the design:

“The chair’s Grecian-medallioned back, with poetic laurel-festoons and wreath tied by a pearled-ribbon guilloche, corresponds to the pattern invented in the early 1770s under the direction of the architect Sir William Chambers (d.1796) for Queen Charlotte’s drawing-room at Windsor Castle by Thomas Chippendale (d.1779) of St Martin’s Lane (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol.II, fig.185). The pattern was also introduced under Chambers’ direction for the drawing-room saloon at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, where it was upholstered in ‘rich flowered damask’ … The fluted legs, terminating in palm-wrapped plinths, also relate to those of drawing-room chairs executed by Messrs. Chippendale in the later 1770s such as the suite supplied for Burton Constable Hall (C. Gilbert, op.cit., fig.192).”                                                               Christie’s Fine English Furniture London Thursday 26 September 1996  Auction Catalogue p. 90

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