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Fig. 244. OAK CHAIR.

Height, 3 ft. 3 ins. ; width, 2 ft.; depth, i ft. 9 ins. Date about 1645—50.

H. Clifford Smith, Esq.

Fig. 244. OAK CHAIR.

Height, 3 ft. 3 ins. ; width, 2 ft.; depth, i ft. 9 ins. Date about 1645—50.

H. Clifford Smith, Esq.

time. None of these chairs of original date appear to have survived, and an examination of the two later copies shown in Figs. 240 and 241, will show their fragile character. Here we have the art of the wood-turner running riot, especially in Fig. 241. This chair consists of a multitude of bobbin-forms, each piece socketed into another. The woods are appletree and yew, both chosen for their toughness. In Fig. 240 ash, elm and either apple or almond tree are used.

This type of turned chair appears at several periods, and for reasons which may be conjectured. It is, obviously7, a conceit of the woodturner, produced without the aid of the joiner or his tools. Construction-ally, these chairs are absurdities, and, in design, they leave a good deal to be desired. Thus the seat of Fig. 241 is triangular 011 plan, so that the chair could be placed in a corner, but the back is parallel to the line of the front seat, so that the attempt is abortive. All the stresses, in both chairs, bear directly on the joints, which have to depend, for stability, on glue or other adhesive. Fig. 240 is somewhat more logical, and the genesis of the modern \\ indsor chair of the stick-back type can be traced in this model. There is no method here, however, of bracing the front legs firmly to the back. Any forward strain on the ends of the front legs, on the part of the sitter, would force the cross-rails of the arms out of their sockets.

This revival of turning coincides with the beginning of the Commonwealth period. The Puritan disdained ornament, and as an iconoclast he had few equals in English history. The fine woodwork of the fifteenth century, especially that in churches, suffered more at Roundhead hands than at any other period, the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI not excepted. It is doubtful how far from London this wave of

Puritanism extended. Carving on chairs or other furniture, of home-county origin, is rare during the years from 1645 to 1660, yet the same cannot be said of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Westmorland, Cumberland or Durham. That this neglect of ornament was only a pose, there can be little doubt, viewed after the lapse of two centuries and a half, when events and tendencies can be appreciated in proper perspective. Commonwealth silver is the rarest of all from the reign of Elizabeth onwards ; the Puritan inclined to pewter. That did not prevent him, nevertheless, from seizing, and melting down as much of the earlier silver as he could lav

Fig. 245. OAK CHAIR.

Dated 1640.

Fig. 245. OAK CHAIR.

Dated 1640.

his hands upon. It is a curious reflection, but one which is substantiated by historical evidence, that an age of religious zeal always discounts artistic production, whereas an era of vice and extravagance encourages it. The Commonwealth in England, and the middle eighteenth century in France can be selected, at haphazard, from many historical examples of the two influences.

The bobbin-turned chairs, such as Figs.

Fig. 246. OAK CHAIR.

Height, 3 ft. 5 ins. ; width, i ft. io ins. Date about 1650.

  1. Clifford Smith, Esq.
  2. 246. OAK CHAIR.

Height, 3 ft. 5 ins. ; width, i ft. io ins. Date about 1650.

H. Clifford Smith, Esq.

Fig. 247. OAK CHAIR

3 ft. 4I ins. high by 1 ft. 7J ins. across seat, 1 ft. 4 ins. deep.

  1. Dupuis Cobtold, Esq.
  2. 247. OAK CHAIR

3 ft. 4I ins. high by 1 ft. 7J ins. across seat, 1 ft. 4 ins. deep.

J. Dupuis Cobtold, Esq.

242 and 243 are, essentially, of Commonwealth type. The lavish use of turning was, evidently, the Laodicean attitude of the Puritan towards ornament. These chairs possess what may be described as a busy severity, but they are well constructed, top rails tenoned between uprights and the legs heavily stretchered. The sunk seats presuppose the use of a squab-cushion. It is a characteristic of Commonwealth chairs that, if made in pairs, the two are rarely of the same height. It was not because, if intended

for male and female use, the lady would demand a chair of lesser seat height, but the fact that this slight indication of relative importance epitomised the Puritan attitude towards their womenfolk. If man was created first, the Roundhead did not intend the fact to be forgotten.

Of the two chairs illustrated here, one is considerably less in seat height than the other, and this is intentional. The two may be an original pair, in which case, Fig. 242 is the chair of the lady, Fig. 243 that of the man ; here, as a revolt against Commonwealth traditions, illustrated last.

Date about 1660.

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