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Seat cover

Seat cover

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk damask with applique decoration

  • Museum number:

    T.425-1988

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This loose cover would have been put on top of a plainer seat on special occasions. Such show covers, or 'false cases', were made of high value textiles that might only be brought out during short periods when a house was occupied by wealthy owners with several other residences, or if prestigious guests were to be received. Use of such covers could also be a way of varying the decoration of a room between summer and winter.

The fragility of construction of this cover, with its satin appliqué and chenille embroidery, would make it very unsuitable for any more than the lightest use in seating, as its decoration would be so easily abraded.

Physical description

Loose seat cover for a chair. It is made of yellow silk damask in 4/1 satin, using the full width of the damask with an extra piece seamed at each side to create the required width. It is shaped with cut-out areas to fit around the chair legs. The damask's design is in point repeat (creating a mirror-image of the design to either side of a central axis), with stylised plants and flowers, that slightly evoke chinoiserie. The design has been carefully placed to be seen to best advantage on the seat.
The front and sides are decorated towards their edges with an abstract floral design in applique of white satin embellished with pale blue embroidery. The embroidery is in the form of laid and couched fine cord and chenille thread, with small details embroidered directly into the damask. Traces of the underdrawing can be seen in places, in black ink.
The back of the cover is of pieced linen. There are three pairs of hooks and eyes at each corner to secure the cover at the back of the chair legs.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1720 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silk damask with applique decoration

Dimensions

Height: 74 cm, Width: 81 cm at widest point

Object history note

From a set of five covers bought by the vendor from Phillips (sale 27 October 1988 lot 158). Others from the set may have been acquired by St Louis Museum.

Purchased. Registered File number 1988/1987.

Historical context note

This loose cover would have been intended to be put on top of a plainer seat on special occasions.

John Cornforth gives a summary of the practice of putting such show covers, or 'false cases', onto furniture, made of high value textiles that might only be brought out during short periods when a house was occupied. (Early Georgian Furniture, p.105). He mentions a number of houses where such covers are listed in inventories. Use of such covers could also be a way of varying the decoration of a room between summer and winter.

The fragility of construction of this cover, with its satin applique and chenille embroidery, would make it very unsuitable for any more than the lightest use in seating, as its decoration would be so easily abraded.

Descriptive line

Loose cover for a chair, yellow silk damask with blue and white applied decoration, English, ca. 1720

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John Cornforth, Early Georgian Interiors, Yale University Press, 2004.
Lucy Wood, The Upholstered Furniture in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Yale University Press, 2008

Materials

Silk (textile)

Techniques

Damask weaving; Applied work

Categories

Textiles; Interiors; Furniture

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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