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A 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.1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, pen and watercolour

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case W, shelf 8, box C1

This design for a chair by John Linnell, ca.1750, has many features that demonstrate the popularity of the rococo style in Britain during this period such as the turned-out cabriole legs. The rococo style was popular during the mid-18th century, characterised by curved forms and naturalistic motifs. The floral festoons hanging below the chair seat and the swirling foliage which Linnell has incorporated into the design of the chair creates a flamboyant, rococo image. The crest rail combines imagery influenced by chinoiserie stylistic forms (the inspiration from the art and design of China, Japan and other Asian countries) such as the horizontal lattice pattern and the lambrequin (fabric) motifs either side.

The elaborate form of the chair and the red colouring which Linnell has used suggests that it would have been upholstered in a luxurious material such as damask. This is a very experimental design, unlike anything which the Linnell firm was actually making, yet it reflects Linnell’s originality and imagination.

Physical description

A design for an armchair in pencil, pen, and red watercolour. The chair has long, thin legs in the cabriole form with outward scrolling feet. The crest rail is composed of different elements including floral forms and two lambrequin motifs either side of a central horizontal panel of lattice work. The armrests are curved and situated on top of four supports which are also curved and designed to create the impression of foliage. Below the s-shaped seat front are floral swags, also present at the sides. The chair back and seat are coloured with a red wash. 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.1750 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

pencil, pen and watercolour


Height: 17.7 cm volume, Width: 11.4 cm volume

Historical context note

Chairs such as these would have held important positions within the household due to its elaborate form and its luxurious upholstery.

Descriptive line

Design for an armchair in pencil, pen and red watercolour from a volume of designs for furniture, interior decoration and architectural fittings, by John Linnell, Great Britain, ca.1750

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



Subjects depicted

Subject; Festoon; Cabriole; Lattice


Drawings; Furniture; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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