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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1861-1862 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Brown, Ford Madox, born 1821 - died 1893 (designer)
    Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satinised wood, part ebonised, with incised decoration and cane seat

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This chair is one of a small number of pieces designed by the painter Ford Madox Brown (1821–93). It closely imitates an ancient Egyptian stool in the British Museum, but a back of modern design has been added to it. When new, this Egyptian-style chair would have been strictly a novelty piece. The shaped seat and turned legs were later used by Liberty & Co. for their Thebes stool, first introduced in 1884.

Archaeologically inspired Egyptian-style furniture did not really become fashionable on a commercial scale until after 1922. In this year Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

Physical description

Chair , in satinised wood and partly ebonised, the shaped legs joined by a single front and two side stretchers on either side, supporting a slightly concave seat filled with cane, with a three-bar ladder-shape back and circular incised decoration on the back and either end of the seat rails.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1861-1862 (made)


Brown, Ford Madox, born 1821 - died 1893 (designer)
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Satinised wood, part ebonised, with incised decoration and cane seat


Height: 84.5 cm, Width: 55 cm, Depth: 54.5 cm

Object history note

This chair is one of a pair and the design was inspired by an inlaid pair of chairs designed by William Holman Hunt and made by J.G. Crace in 1856-7 (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery). The source of Hunt's design was the ancient Egyptian inlaid stool in the British Museum. Hunt invited Madox Brown to see his chairs in December 1857 and in his diary for January 1858 Madox Brown recorded work on designs for chairs which may have included this cane seated version. It has the same low curved seat and turned legs as on Hunt's chair but Madox Brown added a traditional ladder back, and incised decoration, similar to that used on some of his designs for picture frames.

Madox Brown's two chairs were sold in his executor's sale at 1 St. Edmund's Terrace, Regent's Park (T.G. Wharton), 29th-31st May 1894, lot 18, and bought by Lamont for £5. One chair was subsequently owned by T.R. Lamont and bequeathed by Mrs. Lamont to Martin Secker. It was purchased from the Fine Art Society by the Museum in 1985.

Historical context note

The development of interest in Egyptian design and ornament among artists and designers in the 1850s may have been stimulated by a range of sources, including.Owen Jones's Grammar of Ornament (1856) and his work on the reconstructed Crystal Palace at Sydenham. This included an Egyptian Court with full size copies of the colossi of Abu Simbel. The collection of Egyptian furniture excavated at Thebes by Henry Salt from 1815, and acquired by the British Museum, was illustrated by Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson in Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, first published in 1837 and reissued in a revised edition, 1853. Several pieces of furniture were made, based on these Ancient Egyptian pieces, notably the pair of chairs designed by W. Holman Hunt, 1857-8, (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery), the cane seated chairs designed by Ford Madox Brown, c. 1860, and the Thebes stool by Liberty & Co., c. 1884.

Descriptive line

satinised wood, partly ebonised, with cane seat and incised decoration; designed by Ford Madox Brown and made by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., 1861-2.

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

Parry, Linda, ed. William Morris. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Limited, 1996. 384 p., ill. ISBN 0856674419

Labels and date

This chair was one of a small number of pieces designed by the painter Maddox Brown. It closely follows an ancient Egyptian stool in the British Museum to which a back has been added. This stool was later also copied by the firm of Liberty like the Thebes Stool shown nearby. []
[William Morris, gallery 125 ]
21 Chair

Ford Madox Brown, an artist, was a partner in the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. He provided designs for furniture, including this chair based on ancient Egyptian stools in the British Museum. It is one of a pair that originally belonged to him.

Satinised wood, partly ebonised, with incised decoration
Designed by Ford Madox Brown (born in Calais, France, 1821, died in London, 1893); made by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., later Morris & Co., London
Museum no. W.13-1985 [01/10/2008]




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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