An extremely fine pair of early 18th-century mahogany side chairs, the scrolled cresting above a baluster splat with scrolling volutes with a moulded horseshoe drop-in seat upholstered in floral period needlework, the cabriole legs headed by foliate carving centred by lions' masks and suspended husks terminating in hairy paw feet.This beautifully patinated and richly carved pair of chairs exemplify the transition in English furniture from the predominant use of walnut in the early 18th century to the introduction of mahogany from the 1730s onwards. These chairs retain the earlier style of vase splat and shaped stiles, but the chairmaker has discovered the new crispness of carving that mahogany allows, boldly decorating the knees with the prominent lions' masks and hairy paw feet. The same forms are also found occasionally on the grander walnut furniture of the same period.
An almost identical pair of chairs, possibly from the same set, were formerly in the celebrated collection of Percival Griffiths at Sandrigebury Place, Hertfordshire. The pair, which formed part of a group of similar lions' mask adorned furniture, were used to illustrate early examples of mahogany chairs in the seminal Dictionary of English Furniture.
Literature: Goodison, N & Kern, R., Hotspur- Eighty Years of Antiques Dealing, London, 2004 p. 154, illus, 155.
The chairs: Sir John Gooch, 12th Bt. Benacre Hall, Suffolk.
Private collection, England.
The needlework: Made by Elizabeth Chambre Vaughan, Burlton Hall, Shropshire.
By descent and documented by her great grandson Edward E.G.C. Vaughan, Burlton Hall, Shropshire.
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