Armchair thumbnail 1
Armchair thumbnail 2
+8
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Armchair

1730-1760 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This chair, with caned back and seat, was a popular type in mid-18th-century France, caning being a much less expensive treatment than upholstery. The use of stained beech, to look like the more expensive walnut, was a further economy. It was evidently intended to be used with a cushion, fitted around the plain blocks at the bottom of the arms. The arms originally had upholstered elbow-pads, for added comfort, and they still have remains of a leather cover. The stretchers used to strengthen the frame interrupt the curved outline of the legs, so this element was deliberately avoided in some chairs of this type. Others do have stretchers, but of a less elaborate form than those seen here, which are therefore probably a later addition.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved beech stained to a walnut colour, with caned back and seat
Brief Description
Armchair of beech, stained to look like walnut, with seat and back panels of caning. The armchair has cabriole legs joined by an X-stretcher; the almost square seat and back, with serpentine frames, are carved with foliage and frui.t
Physical Description
Armchair of beech, stained to look like walnut, with seat and back panels of caning. The low-backed armchair has cabriole legs joined by an X-stretcher; the almost square seat and back, with serpentine frames, are carved with foliage and fruit.

The legs are carved with scrolling feet, the outer corners of the front legs carved with foliage above the feet and with cartouches at the knees. The lower edge of the seat rail is serpentine, carved with formal foliage on the front and the sides, centreing on a pomegranate motif in the centre of the front seat rail. The legs are joined by the X-stretcher just above the feet, the stretcher carved as shallow S-scrolls with foliage, metting beneath a turned knop (the whole stretcher section possibly a replacement or addition). The back frame is carved with short, low supports, these and the front face of the frame of the back outlined with incised lines, carved with foliage at the top and bottom corners and along the top rail, the ornament here centreing on a central motif of paired leaves with an upright, pear-shaped pod between them. The arm supports are set back from the front legs and are raised on shallow, plain blocks which would have been masked in use by a shallow squab cushion. The curving arm supports are carved with foliage, the arms, with scrolled ends, are carved with dished area which would originally have been upholstered as arm pads. There are traces of leather in this area, suggesting that the original squab might also have been covered in leather. The caning is probably replaced.
Dimensions
  • Height: 95cm
  • Maximum, at front of seat width: 65.5cm
  • At widest point of arm supports width: 64.5cm
  • At feet width: 63cm
  • Of chair back width: 53.5cm
  • Maximum depth: 60cm
  • Of seat depth: 51cm
Measured 5 December 2006
Style
Credit line
Given to the Museum by Charles Damian Disch
Historical context
Caned chairs would have been used with loose cushions, not only to provide comfort but to distribute weight on the delicate canework. The plain areas at the base of the arm supports indicate the probably height of the cushion and the stubby uprights below the back panel would have served to hold the full panel above the height of the cushion.
Summary
This chair, with caned back and seat, was a popular type in mid-18th-century France, caning being a much less expensive treatment than upholstery. The use of stained beech, to look like the more expensive walnut, was a further economy. It was evidently intended to be used with a cushion, fitted around the plain blocks at the bottom of the arms. The arms originally had upholstered elbow-pads, for added comfort, and they still have remains of a leather cover. The stretchers used to strengthen the frame interrupt the curved outline of the legs, so this element was deliberately avoided in some chairs of this type. Others do have stretchers, but of a less elaborate form than those seen here, which are therefore probably a later addition.
Collection
Accession Number
76-1872

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 1, 2006
Record URL