An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs

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Lot 470TP
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs

Sold for £ 47,500 (US$ 62,107) inc. premium
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
With 18th century gros and petit point needlework upholstered backs arms and seats, 61cm wide x 67cm deep x 95cm high, (24in wide x 26in deep x 37in high) (7)

Footnotes

  • An eighth chair from this set can be seen at St Fagan's, Cardiff.

    This fine set of armchairs is designed in the refined and rare Anglo-French style of the late 1780s. Using (or more likely, re-using) French gros and petit point chair-needlework almost certainly dating to the second quarter of the 18th century and depicting Aesop's fables, the chair-frames adopt a fashionably Gallic degree of rectilinearity both in seat plan and back plan as well as ornament, employing up-to-date French motifs such as 'Pompeian' columnar baluster arm-supports enriched with spiral fluting. French neo-classical forms like these had been recently introduced to Britain, partly as a reaction to the ubiquity of Robert Adam's dainty 'gingerbread' antique style, by the architects and furniture designers Sir William Chambers, Henry Holland and Charles Tatham as part of their remodelling of Carlton House in London for the francophile Prince of Wales. The French style was simultaneously promoted by Holland in his refurbishment of Woburn Abbey and Southill Park in Bedfordshire. By 1793 designs for spiral-column-supported French 'cabriolet' chairs like the present lot were being taken up by fashionable furniture makers via several plates of Thomas Sheraton's Cabinetmaker's and Upholsterer's Drawing Book.

    Several chair-makers stand out as leading practitioners of the Louis XVI style in England and must be considered candidates for authorship of the current chairs. The stamp of the freelance craftsman/journeyman B. Harmer (first name unknown) is recorded on several suites of fine quality Anglo-French giltwood seat-furniture of this period, including the magnificent dolphin-carved chairs supplied by Elward, Marsh and Tatham circa 1797 to Powderham Castle in Devon. A set of four armchairs by Harmer comparable to the current lot were sold Christie's, London, 10 July 2003, lot 91. The Paris-trained London maker Francois Herve, who worked with Henry Holland, supplied related French-style chairs to a number of palatial country houses, including Chatsworth in 1782-5, Woburn circa 1785 and Carlton House from 1787-1790. A pair of bergeres supplied by Henry Holland and Francis Herve to Althorp, Northamptonshire, in 1791 closely resembles the present chairs and were sold in the Spencer House sale, Christies, 8 July 2010, lot 1051. Aristocratic taste for French chairs was also met by Gillows of Oxford Street (and Lancaster) whose surviving records show that their richer clients of the 1790s were given access to a book of highly finished coloured drawings of Gillows' own designs, several illustrating French style armchairs, including one with many similarities to the present lot.

    A comparable pair of chairs with similar delicate spiral twisted uprights after a design by Henry Holland was sold at Christies New York, 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, 19-20 October 2011 lot 538.

    The needlework back and seats found on these are chairs are English and date around c1730/1740. It is likely that the main embroiderer or client had the patterns drawn professionally, most probably in London, and the work was either done 'in house' or by family members with assistants. The panels are designed with agricultural and gardening scenes, others with hunting scenes and a number with scenes taken from Aesop's Fables worked in tent stitch with silk and coloured wools.

    A comparison to the design found on these chairs can be seen in an embroidered folding screen by Lady Julia Calverley at Wallington Hall, Northumberland in 1727. One of the panels has a very similar scene (gardening and agricultural implements to the fore and with an arch to the left).
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An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
An important set of seven George III giltwood framed open armchairs
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