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A George III mahogany library armchair to a design by Thomas Chippendale.

The design of the chair corresponds almost in every detail with plate XXII of Thomas Chippendale’s third edition of The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director of 1762. This edition of the Director had been updated and extended by Chippendale, and it contained many new plates with more rococo designs than the first or second editions of 1754 and 1755. The design for this chair is one of the new plates. The original drawing by Chippendale for this plate is preserved in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The carving is executed to a very high standard, comparable to the work of the master himself. 

The seat frames are constructed of solid mahogany. Comparable examples by Chippendale include the well-documented suite of seat furniture from Dumfries House, Scotland. The seat rails are made of beech with mahogany additions, which was both a more economical use of the more expensive mahogany and structurally stronger. 

Pieces from the Chippendale firm destined for delivery outside London always feature batten holes to the underside for securing them while being transported. The lack of batten holes to the underside of the rails on this chair further suggests that the suite was made by a local cabinet-maker rather than by Chippendale.

THE GILSTON PARK SUITE

This chair was once part of a suite consisting of eight armchairs and a settee. Today a pair of armchairs, as part of the Untermeyer bequest, and the settee from the Harris Brisbane Dick Fund are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. A single armchair is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. A pair of chairs from the set is in a private collection in Switzerland.

Gilston Park Manor was home to the Plumber family. The suite was commissioned by William Plumber MP and then passed down in the family until the house was sold and then demolished in 1851.

Literature: Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director, 3rd edition, 1762, pl. XXII.
‘Gilston Park, Hertfordshire’, Illustrated London News, 26 April 1851.
Ralph Edwards, A History of the English Chair, 1950, pl. 74.
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, revised edition, 1954, vol. I, p. 288, fig. 198.
Yvonne Hackenbroch, English Furniture with Some Furniture of Other Countries in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, 1958, pls 114–115.
Sotheby’s, ‘The Collection of Important English Furniture formed by S. Eckman’, sale catalogue, 6 October 1967, lot 176.
‘The Sale Room’, Apollo, December 1967, p. 520.
Desmond Fitzgerald, Georgian Furniture, 1969, item 60.
John Kenworthy-Browne, Chippendale and his Contemporaries, 1971, p. 32, illus. 30.
Geoffrey Wills, English Furniture 1760–1900, 1979, p. 22, fig. 17.
Emily Eerdmans, Classic English Designs and Antiques, Period Styles and Furniture, The Hyde Park Antiques Collection, 2006, p. 116.

Illustrated:
Nicholas Goodison and Robin Kern, Hotspur – Eighty Years of Antiques Dealing, 2004, pp. 138–9.


  • Provenance

    Commissioned by William Plumber (1736–1822) for Gilston Park Manor, Hertfordshire, England.
    Frank Partridge & Sons Ltd., London, England.
    Phillips of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.
    S. Eckman Jr., London, England.
    Hotspur Ltd., London, England.
    Private collection, London, England.


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