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Design for an armchair from; A Miscellaneous Collection of Original Designs, made, and for the most part executed, during an extensive Practice of many years in the first line of his Profession, by John Linnell, Upholserer Carver & Cabinet Maker. Selected from his Portfolio's at his Decease, by C. H. Tatham Architect. AD 1800.

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Linnell, John, born 1729 - died 1796 (designers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, pen and yellow and blue watercolour

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case W, shelf 8, box C2

This design for an armchair by John Linnell demonstrates his adoption of neoclassical forms (such as the cylindrical, tapered legs and rectilinear shape) as well as his inspiration from other designers. Linnell was often inspired by French fashion, in particular designs by the French designer J.C. Delafosse (1734-1789). In some of Delafosse’s designs for chairs, he has incorporated bows as part of the decorative ornamentation on the crest rail, similar to the way in which Linnell has done here. This demonstrates Linnell’s ability to employ fashionable French styles within his work for English clients.

Within this design, Linnell has used two different decorative styles for the front rail of the chair seat. The precision and quality of this design suggests that Linnell intended to show to clients the various decorative elements which could be incorporated. The blue patterned chair seat and back suggests that the chair would have been covered in a luxurious material such as blue damask. Elaborately decorated chairs such as these would have been intended for use in the state rooms of grand interiors, such as drawing rooms, where they could be seen by guests.

Physical description

A design for an armchair in the neoclassical style. The top of the chair back features a bow in the centre flanked by festoons. The upholstery is patterned and blue while the chair frame and carved ornamentation are yellow. The front rail of the chair seat consists of two different patterns on each side. The chair legs are cylindrical in shape and taper towards the bottom. They are encased in acanthus leaves and terminate with what are possibly acanthus buds. One of a set of designs for furniture, including chairs and state beds, interior decoration, including pier glasses, and architectural fittings including chimney pieces and doors. In a volume.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


late 18th century (made)


Linnell, John, born 1729 - died 1796 (designers)

Materials and Techniques

pencil, pen and yellow and blue watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

'Plate 3. No.4'


Height: 19 cm volume, Width: 14.5 cm volume

Descriptive line

Design for an armchair with a bow on the crest rail in pen, yellow and blue watercolour from a volume of designs for furniture, interior decoration and architectural fittings, by John Linnell, Great Britain, late 18th century

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

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1929, London: Board of Education, 1930.
Hayward, H. and Kirkham, P. William and John Linnell Eighteenth Century London Furniture Makers, London; Studio Vista, Christie’s (1980)


Paper (fiber product); Ink; Wash; Watercolour; Pencil



Subjects depicted

Bow; Subject; Fluting; Festoon; Patera; Upholstery; Acanthus


Drawings; Furniture; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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