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Trafalgar

  • Object:

    Chair

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1810 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Lady Glyn

  • Museum number:

    W.27:1, 2-1958

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 16 []

Object type
This particular style of chair was fashionable after 1808, when the design was first published in the trade catalogue, 'The London Chair-Makers and Carvers Book of Prices Supplement'. It was described there as the 'Trafalgar'. The essential feature of a 'Trafalgar' chair is the continuous, curving line formed by the sides of the back, the seat rail and the chair legs. It incorporates the fashionable outward curving front leg, used on chairs since 1801 and known as 'Grecian'. This feature was derived from an ancient Greek chair style.

Historical Associations
The firm Morgan and Saunders, who had provided furniture for Lord Nelson, renamed their premises 'Trafalgar House'. They may have given the name to this type of chair, as they made many of the type. Naval references on furniture, such as the rope-twist back rail on this chair, had been popular since Nelson's victory in the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Design & Designing
The wood is painted black to simulate ebony. The shallow grooves are painted gold to emphasise the sinuous lines of the chair. In the back is a classical 'anthemion' in gilt brass. The 'anthemion', Greek for 'flower', was a motif fashionable in the Greek Revival style of the time.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1810 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Dimensions

Height: 86.4 cm, Width: 45.7 cm, Depth: 45.7 cm

Object history note

This lightweight and portable chair was a popular Regency design. Many manufacturers made versions of it. They called it a 'Trafalgar' chair after Nelson's famous victory in 1805. However, the curving shape of the legs and the central anthemion motif in the back were entirely based on those of ancient Greek chairs.

Descriptive line

'Trafalgar' chair, beech, Regency design, England, ca. 1810

Labels and date

CHAIR
ENGLISH; about 1810
Japanned and gilded beechwood

One of a set of twelve.

Bequeathed by Lady Glyn. [pre October 2000]

Categories

Furniture; Woodwork; British Galleries; Household objects; A Year of Objects: October, Trafalgar Day

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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