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Armchair

Armchair

  • Place of origin:

    High Wycombe (made)

  • Date:

    1899-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Walton, George, born 1867 - died 1933 (designer)
    William Birch (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Walnut, inlaid with mother-of-pearl

  • Museum number:

    W.78-1975

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1

Object Type
This chair is a variation of Walton's 'Lovat' chair, which had caned side and back panels instead of wooden slats. The simple heart-shaped motif in mother-of-pearl on the back rail was also part of the Lovat design and is typical of Walton's elegant decorative style.

People
The chair belonged to John Llewellyn, one of Arthur Lasenby Liberty's fellow directors at Liberty's. Llewellyn was a leading light at Liberty's and, after joining the company in 1889, took only three years to become head of the Silk Department. In 1898 he was appointed to the board and was instrumental in commissioning and promoting Liberty's range of Art Nouveau furnishing fabrics.

Design & Designing
Liberty's established its own furniture design studio in 1883 and a workshop in 1887. However, not everything was designed or made in-house. The firm increasingly bought designs from independent artists such as Walton and also continued its relationship with independent manufacturers such as William Birch of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. This chair was made by Birch and the original design is in the Birch records at High Wycombe Public Library.

Time
Chairs with tall backs were a feature of progressive furniture design in the 1890s. It is possible that this taste for height was inspired by the attenuated and elegant forms found in Japanese art. Since the 1870s it had been fashionable to collect prints and artefacts from Japan, and Walton is known to have had his own set of Japanese pattern books.

Physical description

Walnut armchair inlaid with mother-of-pearl

Place of Origin

High Wycombe (made)

Date

1899-1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Walton, George, born 1867 - died 1933 (designer)
William Birch (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Walnut, inlaid with mother-of-pearl

Dimensions

Height: 113.5 cm, Width: 61 cm, Depth: 65 cm

Object history note

Designed by George Walton (born in Glasgow,1867, died in London, 1933); made for Liberty & Co. by the firm of William Birch, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. This chair belonged to John Llewellyn, one of the directors of Liberty's.

Descriptive line

Armchair, designed by George Walton and made by William Birch of High Wycombe, ca.1899

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Liberty & Co. bought designs from innovative designers in the popular Arts and Crafts style. This chair was designed by Scottish designer George Walton, who at the time had no showroom in London. It was made for Liberty's by a large firm in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, then the centre of the furniture-making trade. [27/03/2003]

Categories

British Galleries; Furniture; Scotland

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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