The chairs would originally have formed part of a larger set or suite, like most commissions by Chippendale. They have acquired a wonderful surface over the years, and the bold yet highly accomplished carved detail leaves little doubt about their authorship. The harmonious design of these chairs is characteristic of pieces by the Chippendale firm, but was achieved by few other workshops of the 18th century.
The design for these chairs is preserved as an unpublished drawing by Thomas Chippendale in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The fact that it is unpublished supports a Chippendale manufacture, as it excludes other workshops who subscribed to Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director and copied its designs. Chippendale also never precisely repeated his designs, but modified them each time with subtle yet noticeable changes, thus keeping each commission individual.
A similar model also based on the unpublished drawing was produced for William, 5th Earl of Dumfries in Scotland. The general outline of the Dumfries suite, which is fully documented and retained at Dumfries, is virtually identical, but slight changes to the front rail, the shape of the back and some of the carved detail make both models unique.
Another chair from the same set, formerly with Hotspur Ltd., London, England, was until recently in a private collection in New York.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. II, pp. 132–3.
Christie, Manson & Woods, ‘Dumfries House – A Chippendale Commission’, sale catalogue, 12–13 July 2007, vol. I, pp. 174–85, lots 50–52.
Christie’s, ‘Régence to Fabergé – An Apartment by Jed Johnson’, sale catalogue, 20 May 2010, pp. 54–5, lot 85.
Fogg Art Museum, Boston, USA, until 1987.
Hotspur Ltd., London, England, 1988.
Private collection, England.
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