Pair of armchairs
Designer / Maker
Designed by Barry Parker (1867-1943)
Oak, with restored rush seats
48 ¾ in (122 cm) × 23 in (58.4 cm) × 21 in (53.3 cm)
English, circa 1907–09
Possibly Whirriestone, Lancashire
American private collection, and Museum of Modern Art, New York
Barry Parker, ‘Modern Country Houses in England [Whirriestone]: Number Fifteen’, The Craftsman, July 1911, pp. 395–406.
A chair, possibly one of the present pair,* is shown in an illustration of the ‘Living Room at “Whirriestone” with a Glimpse of the Fireplace’; see Parker (op. cit.), p. 400.
Whirriestone, a cement-rendered house with a low-pitched tiled roof and well planned interiors, is reminiscent of work pioneered by C.F.A. Voysey (1857–1941) and M.H. Baillie Scott (1865–1945). Barry Parker entered into an architectural partnership with his brother-in-law Raymond Unwin (1863–1940) that lasted from 1896–1914. Today Parker and Unwin are best known for their contributions to town planning, most notably Letchworth (from 1903) and Hampstead Garden Suburb (from 1905).
Gustav Stickley (1858–1942) published the influential magazine The Craftsman from 1901 to 1916; it was particularly significant in bringing the work of English designers to the attention of an American public. Individuals to benefit included Edgar Wood (1860–1935), M.H. Baillie Scott, C.F.A. Voysey and George Walton (1867–1933). However, the biggest English beneficiaries from this publication were Parker & Unwin through some thirty articles contributed by Parker between 1902 and 1916; see Dean Hawkes (ed.), Modern Country Homes in England: The Arts and Crafts Architecture of Barry Parker, Cambridge, 1986.
* In an e-mail dated 4 August 2014, Vicky Axell (curator of the Garden City Collection Study Centre at Letchworth) noted that Parker, like Voysey, made a habit of ‘set-dressing’ his interiors. Thus, we cannot be certain that these chairs were not simply installed at Whirriestone for the photograph.