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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 Portfolios at his Decease, by C. H. Tatham Architect. AD 1800.

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1775-1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, pen and ink

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

This sketch for an armchair is sober in form compared to some of Linnell’s more flamboyant designs. The straight chair legs and the Vitruvian scroll on the chair seat frame demonstrate the influence of the neoclassical style which became increasingly popular towards the end of the 18th century. The round seat and short armrests occur in chairs made for Robert Child at Osterley Park. They also occur in chairs made for the boudoir at Keddleston Hall and Castle Howard (Hayward and Kirkhamp.119). The practical and comfortable form of this type of chair would have made it ideal for use within daily life, within bedrooms, boudoirs and private, domestic sitting rooms. This design would have been intended for Linnell’s personal use rather than for a client due to its informal presentation.

Physical description

A design for an armchair in pencil, pen and ink. The chair back and seat are round in form and the armrest rails are unusually short. The seat frame is decorated with what is possibly a Vitruvian scroll. The chair legs are straight and taper at the bottom. 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)


ca.1775-1780 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

pencil, pen and ink


Height: 14.9 cm volume, Width: 11.4 cm volume

Object history note

John Linnell (1729-1796) was the son of the furniture maker William Linnell (ca. 1703-1763) and gained his design education from the St Martin’s Lane Academy. The influence that the St. Martin’s Lane Academy had upon Linnell’s designs are evident through his adoption of rococo forms and motifs, largely inspired by the stylistic precedents emerging from France during this period. During his lifetime John Linnell produced high quality furniture, which rivalled that of other leading furniture makers such as Thomas Chippendale, John Cobb and William Ince and John Mayhew. His later years saw his incorporation of the newly fashionable neoclassical style within his designs which was becoming popular in the latter half of the 18th century.
Selections from his portfolios were made, after his death, by C.H. Tatham, and arranged in scrapbooks, possibly with the intention of publishing them. Two of the volumes were acquired by the Museum in 1911. (See E. 3466-3739--1911, no longer in volumes, but mounted separately.) The album had previously belonged to Tatham's daughter Julia, the wife of George Richmond. (Ward-Jackson, P. English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century, V&A; London (1958) p54-55).

Descriptive line

Design for an armchair in pencil, pen and ink from a volume of designs for furniture, interior decoration and architectural fittings, by John Linnell, Great Britain, ca.1775-1780

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



Subjects depicted

Subject; Vitruvian scroll; Upholstery


Drawings; Furniture; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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