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  • Date:

    1850-1870 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Mahogany carved, upholstered seat.

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Lt. Col. G. B. Croft-Lyons FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Acquired as a bequest in 1926, this chair was thought a the time to have been made in about 1760 following designs published in Thomas Chippendale's 'The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director', first edition 1754. The 'ribbon-back' chair is one of the best-known of the designs published in the Director, but very few surviving chairs in this style are certain to have been made in the 18th century. This chair is now thought to be have been made as an intentional fake in about 1870, when there was a revival of interest in Chippendale's designs and antique collecting was growing in fashion.

Physical description

Mahogany armchair with carved back of ribbon pattern. The top rail rises to a high crest and in the splat two long C-scrolls are interlaced with ribbons starting from a bow and tassel. The arm supports and cabriole legs are carved with acanthus leaves and the seat rail is edged with a small leaf moulding. The cover of the drop-in seat is 17th century Italian velvet brocade.


1850-1870 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Mahogany carved, upholstered seat.


Height: 52.75 in, Width: 26.75 in, Depth: 25.75 in, :

Object history note

When acquired by the Museum in 1926 as part of the bequest of Colonel G B. Croft-Lyons, this chair was thought to have been made in about 1760, shortly after designs for ribbon-back chairs were published by Thomas Chippendale, in 'The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director', ist edition (1754), plate XVI, 'Ribband Back Chairs'. However, both through physical examination and on stylistic grounds, by the 1980s, curators assessed the chair as of nineteenth-century manufacture.

The chair is very similar and probably by the same maker as a suite bought by the 1st Lord St Oswald in the early 1880s, very likely made with intent to deceive as genuinely eighteenth century. Of that suite Lucy Wood commented (see references) 'The design combines features of different genres and periods (most jarringly the ribbon-backs with outmoded ball-and-claw feet); the top rail is improbably tortuous..'.

Another set of ribbon-back chairs and settees made in the 1850s or 1860s, but in a different style, (Museum numbers W.64-1935, W.65, 65A, 65B, & 65C-1935, and W.6-1965), was not intended to deceive but probably made as reproduction furniture in no way inferior to eighteenth-century versions.

Descriptive line

English, made 1850-1870, in the style of 1750-60, mahogany, ribbon-back, 70/1613

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

Lucy Wood, 'Tied up in knots: Three centuries of the ribbon-back chair', in Furniture History Journal, Vol.LI, 2015, pp.241-270.9 A similar chair is illustrated in The Dictionary of English Furniture, Revised by R. Edwards, Volume One Figure 169, p 280 identified as c.1755, from Prince Zurlo, Country Life 1954.


Mahogany; Brocade


Carving; Upholstery


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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