Pair of George IV Gothic Revival Side Chairs
About this piece
Ebonised hardwood with ivory finials over a black silk velvet upholstered seat and back with a pierced quatrefoil stretcher, the pierced seat rails above squared tapering legs terminating in ivory ball feet. Finials of a later 19th Century date
England, circa 1825
The design of these chairs bear all the hallmarks of the late Regency fashion for Antiquarianism. Though the basic form of the chair is conventional the decorative elements are Gothic. Looking back to a pre-industrial Golden Age, the Gothic revival was very politicized, the 'rational' and 'radical' Neoclassical style being seen as associated with republicanism and liberalism (as evidenced by its use in the United States and to a lesser extent in Republican France), so the more traditionally indigenous Gothic style became associated with monarchism, conservatism and seats of power
Whilst we have no maker's mark these chairs could almost certainly have come from the workshops of Morel & Seddon. Image 3 shows a Pugin designed chair, part of the group of furniture and furnishings supplied between 1827 and 1829 to King George IV by the partnership of Morel and Seddon. The quality and form of the carving, especially on the quatrefoils and tracery, show remarkable similarities of execution
Morel and Seddon, along with other makers of the period, would have been aware of George Smith's 'Collection of designs for household furniture and interior decoration' a designer who also happened to be working for the Royal Household.
As Smith explains in his book, "where the pattern is Gothic and the backs partly cut through" if oak is not to be used "these type of frames may be executed in beech-wood and japanned."
Image 4 (Drawings of Hall Chairs & Sofa from Smith's book) shows the period fashion for the elaborate Gothic carving, with pierced quatrefoils and recessed frames, the former very much evident in the side chairs. Image 5 also shows use of ball finials on the top rail, in counter balance to the rectangular rigidity of the frames
George Smith, A Collection of designs for household furniture and interior decoration, in the most approved and elegant taste, 1808
H 88cm x W 46cm x D 53.5cm
H 34½" x W 18" x D 21"
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