Japanned And Painted Settee

6 ft. 6 ins. long x 3 ft. o ins. high from floor to top of hack. 1 ft. 10A ins. inside depth of seat. Date about 1785.

It will be noticed in the foregoing that Hepplewhite's ideas of chair proportions are somewhat elastic, dimensions being adapted " according to the size of the room or pleasure of the purchaser." One would have thought that the design and purpose of the particular chair would have been a more important factor in the regulation of sizes. Horsehair appears to have been the fashionable material for coverings at this date, and many of Hepplewhite's patterns must have demanded considerable skill on the part of the upholsterers in covering with this material, which admits of stretching only across the warp, the weft threads being absolutely inelastic.

The reference to " japanning " is obviously meant to indicate what is known as a decorated chair, and the designs alluded to as being especially suitable for this form of decoration are given later on in this chapter.

Fig. 181 is a sofa, the design of which appears in all three editions of the Guide. The covering is obviously the horsehair cloth alluded to by Hepplewhite, which was made in a wide range of patterns at this period—striped, chequered, and "herring-boned"—and a large number of colourings—white, red, green, blue, and black. Such are the wearing properties of this material that it is not exceptional to find well-preserved specimens of the chair-work of this date with the original coverings intact even at the present


6 ft. I in. extreme length x 3 ft. 1 in. from floor to top of bad;. I ft. 10 ins. inside depth of seat. Date about 1790.


6 ft. I in. extreme length x 3 ft. 1 in. from floor to top of bad;. I ft. 10 ins. inside depth of seat. Date about 1790.

l7l day. The usual—in fact the only practicable finish to these horsehair coverings was the close brass nailing as indicated in this illustration from the Guide. Springs were unknown at this period ; the frame was usually closely webbed and " back-tacked," stout canvas stretched across, and the necessary resiliency obtained by well-curled horsehair.

  1. 1S2 is a more ambitious and far less practicable pattern, and although the sweep of the arms is an obvious absurdity, this plate is repeated in all three editions of the Guide. The central tablet of the seat rail, and the bulbous legs with carved water-leaf decoration, are both typical of Hepplewhite's true style.
  2. 1S3 is probablv a closer approximation to the form such a settee would have taken in the process of manufactme. The frame here is of beech, japanned a deep cream, and decorated with rosettes and sprigs of flowers in blues and greens. The squab cushion was a logical necessity, in the absence of springs, with covering fabrics other than horsehair. Fig. 184 is a "tub-sofa" of satinwood, the fluted legs and seat rail being almost a direct copy fiom the French Louis Seize. To cover the inside back of the settee with the horsehair cloth recommended by Hepplewhite would be almost an impossible task.

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