The cartouche shaped padded back within a molded frame, the serpentine form crest rail edged with conjoined C-scrolls with foliate ornament and centered by a shield shaped cartouche within C-scrolls and carved with a coat of arms surmounted and flanked by pierced foliate scrolls, the similarly formed serpentine uprights ornamented with foliate clasps and trailing foliage, the frame below bordered by C-scrolls and carved at the center with an oval C-scroll enclosed cabochon with ruffled edges and surmounted by a leaf spray, the lower edge with pendant ruffled leaves centered by long oval cabochons, the down curved molded arms edged with C-scrolls and with attached upholstered conforming upholstered pads the conforming molded and C-scroll edged supports with paper scroll terminals wrapped with acanthus leaves and centered by a long cabochon within ruffles, continuing to a further C-scroll framed cabochon with a ruffled edge with rising acanthus leaves above and acanthus leaves below with paper scroll terminals, the upholstered seat within carved seat rails, that at the front of serpentine form, edged with rope carving and centered by a foliate clasp with flowing acanthus leaves, rules, C-scrolls and husks with pendant seeds, flanked by arched lambrequins with pearl beads above diapered panels, the lower edge with C-scrolls and scrolled acanthus leaf and husk clasps, the straight side rails similarly carved, the C-scroll edges continuing to cabriole legs, the knees carved in a similar manner to the clasp at the center and with a pendant spray of leaves and flowers, continuing to imbrications above a dolphin's head, the mouth agape with teeth and fins, the back legs with paper scroll toes, the back rail edged with C-scrolls
Superbly conceived in the mature rococo style of the early 1750s, the present chair is one of a pair which was last recorded together in the 1930s when in the collection of William Randolph Hearst, its companion now being part of the Irwin Untermeyer Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Its design is closely related to a number of designs for French Chairs published by Thomas Chippendale in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director in various editions between 1754 and 1763, William Ince and John Mayhew's The Universal System of Household Furniture, 1762, and the Society of Upholsterer's Genteel Household Furniture, 1765, in particular, plate XX in the 1753 edition of Chippendale's Director illustrates a chair with several characteristics in common with the present chair, including the dolphin head carved on the toes. A number of other chairs of this period are recorded including a pair of arm chairs formerly in the collection of Samuel Messer, sold Christie's, London, December 5, 1991, lot 74, and a suite of seat furniture including stools and armchairs. One of the stools is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the other in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, and two of the chairs are the Gerstenfeld collection. Although both of these examples are superbly carved, their overall design lacks the exuberance of the present example, which is probably more closely related to a master's chair made for the Director's Court Room of the East India Company. The legs of this example are similarly carved with dolphin feet and are imbricated, the cabochon ornamented ruffled carving, C-scrolls and foliate scrolls being close to the detail found on the present example. Unfortunately, none of these examples retain any provenance or documentation indicating their maker, although the superb quality and execution of the carved ornament and the versatility of their overall form indicate a carver and chair maker of the highest caliber. Another suite of chairs, although lacking the dolphin feet of these examples, can possibly attributed to the same maker. Formerly at Grimsthorpe Castle, the seat of the Earls of Ancaster, these have the same stature as the present chair, their oval backs being similarly carved with open foliage on the cresting and the open ruffled foliate carving at the lower edge.
John Harris illustrates the Untermyer chair in 'A Digression on John Sanderson and the Rococo' (see below) attributing its design to Linnell, and certainly its strong rococo character can be compared to both his known completed commissions for mirrors and architectural fittings such as chimney-pieces, although there are few surviving manuscript drawings for chairs other than one now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see: Helena Hayward and Pat Kirkham, Wukkiam & John Linnell, London, 1980, vol. II, p.22, fig. 36), and another for a chair commissioned by The Carpenters' Company, formerly in the Collection of Armin B. Allen. Both of these chairs have remarkably similar crest rails to the back as seen in the present chair, the latter also being centered by a coat of arms. .
The chair bears the arms of the Barrington quartering Plantagenet and Pole, for Fitzwilliam Barrington, who married first in 1741 Sarah, daughter and sole heiress of Thomas Meades, capt. R. N., who had no surviving issue, and secondly in 1750, at Westminster Abbey, to Jane, daughter of Mathew Hall. He succeeded to baronetcy on the death of his brother Sir John, M. P., and seventh baronet who died issueless in 1776.
The family is mentioned by Camden in his Britannia, noting that 'Barrington Hall, heretofore' the seat of that eminent family of the Barringtons, who in the time of King Stephen were greatly enriched with the estates of the Lord Montfichet; and in the memory of our fathers a match with the estate of the Lord Montacute, son and heir to Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, rendered them more illustrious, by an alliance with the royal blood'. This 'royal blood' was introduced into the family by the second marriage of Thomas Barrington in the 16th century to Winefrid, the widow of Sir Thomas Hastings, the youngest daughter and co-heiress of Henry Pole, Lord Montagu, granddaughter of Sir Richard Pole K. G. by Margaret Plantaganet, Countess of Salisbury, and grand daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, brother to King Edward IV. These royal arms form part of the sheild seen on the chair together with Barrington arms 'Ar. Three chevronels, gu. And a label of as many points, az.'. The Baronetcy became extinct after the death of Sir Fizwilliam Barrington, 10th Baronet in 1833.
Barrington Hall was built for Sir John Barrington, the 7th Baronet in the late 1730s, almost certainly by the architects John Sanderson (died 1774) and Joseph Sanderson (died 1747), an existing manuscript drawing for the proposed mansion being inscribed 'South front of Esqr Barrington's at Hatfield. In ye County of Essex Built by Mr John Sanderson Joseph Sanderson Delint' (See: Furniture History 1990, The Journal of the Furniture History Society, Vol. XXVI, 'The Shoppee Album II A Digression of John Sanderson and the Rococo' pp. 101 - 102, figs. 16 and 20. Engravings published by Muilman in New Complete History of Essex, 1771, and R. Goadby and J. Towers in A New Display of the Beauties of England, 1773 shows that Sanderson's sketch was followed quite closely, although the cupolas shown were omitted. The influence of the architects James Gibb and subsequently Colen Campbell is clearly seen in the original design and subsequent building which may be compared to Houghton Hall. Unfortunately, the exterior architecture of Barrington Hall was almost entirely obliterated in 1863 when the mansion was 'improved' in the Jacobethan style.
The aforementioned sketch by Sanderson, together with others of architectural interest, had been collected by Charles John Shoppee, (1823-98), an architectural historian and also a practicing architect. The collection also included a group of drawings by John Linnell of various chimney pieces and over mantels. These had probably originally been bequeathed to his cousin's son, Thomas Tatham who was the brother of Charles Heathcote Tatham. John Harris notes in his article, the connection between John Linnell and John Sanderson 'an architect whose practice extends from 1731 to 1770, when he finished the Radcliffe Infirmary after he death of Seth Leadbetter in 1766.' He continues, 'thirteen documented works in near forty years is obviously quite inadequate. As the Shoppee Album shows, connections with John Linnell may need investigation'.
Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754, Pl. XX.
Luke Vincent Lockwood, Furniture in America, New York, 1926 Vol. II, p. 108, fig. 581.
Yvonne Hackenbroch, English Furniture With Some Furniture of Other Countries in The Irwin Untermyer Collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1958, Pl. 104, fig. 131, ad Pl. 105, fig. 132, 1990, p. 64, no. 45. ‘The Grimsthorpe Chairs’, Pls. 116, 117, figs. 143, 144.
Anthony Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, p. 192, no. 183.
Helena Hayward and Pat Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980.
F. Lewis Hinkley, Metropolitan Furniture of the Georgian Years, 1988, p. 92, pl. 58, ill. 112 (Duveen Brothers). Edward Lennox-Boyd, Ed. Masterpieces of English Furniture - The Gerstenfeld Collection, London, 1998. p.56, fig 41.
C. A. Bayly, The Raj - India and the British 1600-1947, The National Portrait Gallery, 1990, p. 64, no. 45.
Exhibitions: ‘The Sixth International Exhibition’ presented by C. I. N. O. A, The Grand Gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 19th, 1974 - January 5th, 1975, catalogue number 203, p. 208, exhibited by Devenish and Company, New York.
Formerly one of a pair, the other from the Collection of Irwin Untermyer, now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Almost certainly commissioned by Fitzwilliam Barrington, d. 1792, of Barrington Hall Hatfield Oak, Essex, who succeeded his brother Sir John Barrington, M. P., the 7th Baronet as the 8th Baronet in 1776. He married, as his second wife, Jane Hall, daughter of Mathew Hall of Horsham, Sussex at Westminster Abbey, London, February 1749-50.
With Duveen Brothers, New York.
Richard A. Canfield, New York City.
Marsden J. Perry, New York.
Sold American Art Association, Anderson Galleries Inc., New York, 'Important English Furniture, Property of the Estate of the Late Marsden J. Perry', April 3.4. 1936, lot 267, the pair possibly William Randolph Hearst.
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