Ceremonial armchair

  • Provenance

    Sir Charles Stuart, later Lord Stuart de Rothesay (1779-1845), British ambassador in Paris, 1815

  • Collection

    Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco

  • Notes

    This large chair was probably supplied to Sir Charles Stuart in 1815, when he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Paris. The label, which appears on other furniture once owned by Sir Charles when he was in the Hotel de Charost, is thought to have been placed on the chair during an inventory taken on 20 August 1816 (see Sarah Medlam, The Bettine Lady Abingdon Collection, London, 1006, p.48, F.4 and fig.26).

    An ambassadorial chair of almost identical design, two large stools and a foot-stool, all en suite, are at Knole, Kent. These pieces are thought to have been supplied to Lord Whitworth (1752-1825) in 1802 on his appointment as ambassador to Paris. Payments in the Lord Chamberlain’s Account Book for the years 1800-1 1 indicate that this furniture may have been by either ‘Mr. Russell, Joiner’ or by ‘Mr Adair, carter & Gilder’ (see Martin Drury, ‘Two Georgian Chairs of State and a State Canopy at Knole’, Furniture History, XXI (1985), pp. 243-49). William Adair worked from Wardour Street, London and John Russell probably from Bird Street, London.

    A further closely related chair, but of slightly reduced height (41 \ in), was sold by the Trustees of the late H. T. S. Upcher from Sheringham Hall, Norfolk (Christie’s, 22 and 23 October 1986, lot 150). All three chairs and the large stools cited above can be related to a giltwood suite formerly in the West Ante-Room atCarlton House, London. An armchair and two stools from this group were sold at Sotheby’s, London, 8 March 1085, lot 1 7° (see David Watkin, The Royal Interiors of Regency England, London, 1984, p.108).1