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Design for an upholstered 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 Portfolios 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, executed as a presentation piece, by John Linnell demonstrates the importance placed upon comfort and convenience in the latter half of the 18th century. The emphasis upon the upholstery within this design displays that the chair would have been covered in a luxurious material such as patterned damask or silk. Comfortable yet lavish furniture such as this would have been used within rooms such as state drawing rooms within a wealthy household where they could be enjoyed by guests. Interiors such as the library and private domestic rooms were also appropriate locations.

This design is very similar in style to a set of twelve mahogany armchairs, made by the Linnell firm, to designs by the neoclassical architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) for Osterley Park ca.1759-1763 and demonstrates that Linnell was inspired by other designers (Hayward and Kirkham p.35). This chair design displays the stylistic features of the increasingly popular neoclassical style such as the patera ornament at the top of the chair legs and the Vitruvian scroll used to decorate the chair rail. The neoclassical revived the classical styles of ancient Greece and Rome and became extremely fashionable in the second half of the 18th century.

Physical description

A design for an armchair in the neoclassical style. The chair has fluted, tapered front legs while the back legs are raked. The seat frame is decorated with a Vitruvian scroll and above the chair legs are patera ornamentation. The design incorporates a large amount of upholstery (including on the arm rests) which is patterned and coloured blue. The rest of the chair is in a yellow watercolour, to demonstrate gilding. 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 2. No.4'


Height: 17.5 cm volume, Width: 13.1 cm volume

Descriptive line

Design for an upholstered armchair in pencil, 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) pp.115,118


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



Subjects depicted

Subject; Vitruvian scroll; Patera; Upholstery; Fluting


Drawings; Furniture; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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