Pair of side chairs

Ref: 1732
  • Detail

    Mahogany, the upholstery of later date

    87 x 45 x 45 cm

    English, 1820s

  • Provenance

    […]; private collection since 1960s

  • Inscribed

    Each chair inscribed in pencil, under a seat rail, ‘House Keeper Room No 3’ (see below)

  • Notes

    The grandeur of these chairs, designed in the unreformed gothic taste of the 1820s, implies that they were deliberately created, perhaps for the dining room of a fashionable interior. The thought that these were commissioned rather than commercial production is further suggested by the lack, to our knowledge, of any published source.

    That these very smart chairs were at some stage ‘relegated’ to a third housekeeper’s room again makes one think that their original setting was once at the height of fashion.  We can do no more than speculate about what might have come next, and when.

    The dry surface of the chairs and the crustiness around the trefoils (see below) shows that the chairs have not spent much time on the market.  Perhaps they came onto the market, when they were acquired by a perceptive V&A curator, no longer alive.  His belief, incidentally, was that Augustus Charles Pugin might have been the designer, although we cannot find any evidence to support this attribution.

    Another appealing feature of these chairs is the way that the frames have been strengthened.  Rather than simply being glued as one would expect today, each back leg has been screwed into a side rail (see below).  The evidence of this part of the chairs’ history is clearly seen, surrounded by slightly paler wood.

    As so often with old English furniture, we are left with more questions than answers.  These chairs surely have a history that chance may one day illuminate.