Mahogany Corner Chair

2 ft. 9i ins. high. 1 ft. Ill ins. total width of seat. Seat, I ft. 10 ins. x i ft. 6 ins.


I in. high x I ft. 7 ins. across seat. Date ahnnt 1805.

Figs- 353 an™ 354 introduce the new fashion after 1792, which persisted until the " English Empire " style of Hope became firm]}' established in the first decade of the nineteenth century. These chairs may be described as typically English in character, and they are certainly the best of the creations of this period. They differ in one important respect from any other of the open-backed chairs of the entire eighteenth century, the Chippendale " ladder-back " designs only excepted, in the fact that the balusters or splats run from upright to upright instead of from top to seat rails. To attempt subdivisions of so marked a type as the one to which these chairs belong is, perhaps, somewhat pedantic, but it is possible. The legs of these lateral baluster chairs are always turned, either straight as in Fig. 353, or with the feet turned out as in the next example. In general, however, the former are usually earlier in character than the latter. The next point of difference is in the top rail, which is either turned and hollowed with a central panel, or flat with a slight sweep as in Fig. 355. Fig. 353 shows the earlier type of arm, dropping on to a turned baluster immediately above the leg, that of Fig. 354, where both arm and support are shaped, indicating a period within the last five years of the nineteenth century. These lateral baluster chairs were generally made of beech, for japanning, and they were usually painted black with lines and slight floral ornament of gold to give the effect of lacquerwork, as a relief to the satinwood and light japanned pieces of the period. A settee of this type has already been illustrated in Fig. 235 of the first volume, in the section devoted to lacquer decoration.

  1. 355 and 356 are further specimens of these beech painted chairs, the first having a somewhat original form of latticed back, and the arm support turned and fixed to the side rail of the seat. In the second the back is square, with a central oval carving radiating from a panel of the same shape. The turning of

I in. high x I ft. 7 ins. across seat. Date ahnnt 1805.

the legs with triple-reeded "collars" marks another fashion, both in chairs and other furniture of this date, where single, double, or treble beads were used for the moulding of panels almost to the exclusion of any other mouldings. The seat rail of Fig. 356, painted with a Grecian "key pattern," suggests the growing fashion for the ultra-classical forms of ornamentation which, carried to the utmost limits, resulted finally in the depraved and artificial " English Empire " style of Hope, and to which Sheraton also descended in the last phase of his designing career. The same influence is also seen in the somewhat exceptional chair, Fig. 357, also of beech, and veneered with " tiger-stripings " of walnut and sycamore. The railing of the back and arms shows how the Chinese fashions of 1750-60 persisted, with some makers, until almost the close of the century, as this chair is almost, if not cpiite, contemporary with those previously illustrated in Figs. 355 and 356.

Fig.35S is another of these lateral baluster chairs of beech, stained black and lined with gold, of simple shape and admirable proportion. The seats of all these chairs are made low to allow of a loose squab cushion being fitted, usually covered with damask or chintz and filled with white curled horse-hair.

Towards the very close of the eighteenth century chairs begin to be wider in the seat and more squat in the back, and were usually made in sets consisting of a settee, two elbow chairs, and from six to twelve small chairs. Fig. 359 is one of this type, and shows the usual kind of thin squab cushion of this period, " stitched up " on the edges. The framing here is of mahogany, inlaid with stars of sycamore and lines of holly. The top rail is carved with flutes " edge lined " with the same light wood. Fig. 360 is another mahogany chair of about 1800, inlaid in the same way. Figs. 361 and 362 are types of the late Sheraton settees or sofas, the first exhibiting many of the characteristics of previous models, the second upholstered on the back and arms, with a panelled and caned top rail above. The arm chairs to match Fig. 362 would be of the well-known " Bergère " type. Figs. 363 and 364 are specimens of the fashion for the reed and fluted decoration before referred to. Fig. 365 is a writing chair of the same period, with the fashionable lyre-splats in the back. The corner chair was an unusual form at this period, although the shape was probably well adapted to the purpose for which this chair was made.

With the last of this series of chairs, Fig. 366, we enter the nineteenth century and also into Sheraton's " Empire " period. The Cabinet Dictionary, which is the last of Sheraton's completed publications, is illustrated almost entirely i 11 this style. It is to be regietted that such a fashion should have been powerful enough to have influenced the last of the great eighteenth century designers, and this " English Empire " chair has been given to show, by comparison with the models previously illustrated, how the level of English furniture designing falls from the highest to the lowest degree immediately after the close of the eighteenth century. The scope of the book has not been arbitrarily bounded by the conclusion of a century, but by the fact that after rSoo there is nothing in the later history of English furniture worthy of illustration or of emulation.

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