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Chair - The Keeler Chair
  • The Keeler Chair
    Unknown Jacobsen, Arne Emil, born 1902 - died 1971
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The Keeler Chair

  • Object:

    Chair

  • Place of origin:

    Denmark (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1960 (designed)
    ca. 1962 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown
    Jacobsen, Arne Emil, born 1902 - died 1971 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded plywood, and bent tubular steel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Lewis Morley and Dr and Mrs John V. Knaus

  • Museum number:

    W.10-2013

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Christine Keeler (born 1942) posed naked on this chair for a series of publicity shots. These were taken by the photographer Lewis Morley in 1963 (see Museum no. E.15-1999). Keeler had been involved in affairs with John Profumo, a Conservative Cabinet minister, and a Soviet diplomat. The scandal resulted in Profumo's resignation.

At first glance this famous seat looks exactly like an Arne Jacobsen 3107 chair. This was made from moulded plywood and manufactured by the Danish firm Fritz Hansens in the mid 1950s (see Museum no. Circ.371-1970). Although made in Denmark, Keeler's chair is in fact an early 'rip-off' of Jacobsen's design. Morley claimed to have bought the chair at a Heal's sale in 1962 for £2 10s. He has also photographed the playwright Joe Orton and the comedian Barry Humphries sitting on it.

Physical description

Chair made of plywood and tubular steel legs. The one-piece back and seat are made of moulded plywood; at the top of the seat a slot has been cut for use as a handle. The seat is supported by four chromium-plated tubular steel legs. The legs have black rubber feet on the ends.

Place of Origin

Denmark (made)

Date

ca. 1960 (designed)
ca. 1962 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown
Jacobsen, Arne Emil, born 1902 - died 1971 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded plywood, and bent tubular steel

Marks and inscriptions

MADE IN DENMARK
Stamp; English; Underside of seat - stamped into the metal cover which protects the legs where they join.

'THE CHAIR' / J Knaus Lewis Morley / DONATED TO THE V&A MUSEUM BY JOHN KNAUS AND LEWIS MORLEY / PURCHASED 1962 / SITTERS INCLUDE. / SELF PORTRAIT 1962 / CHRISTINE KEELER 1963 / DAVID FROST 1963 / JOE ORTON 1965 / DAME EDNA (BARRY HUMPRHRIES) 1996
Inscription; decoration; English; Written in black felt tip pen on the underside of the seat.

Dimensions

Height: 80 cm, Width: 45.5 cm, Depth: 46 cm

Object history note

Email from Lewis Morley to Mark Haworth-Booth (former V&A curator of photographs), 17/6/2002:
'I bought the chair along with two others (of different design) at a Heal's sale for my studio at the Establishment satirical night club for fifty bob each (Two pounds ten) not for five shillings ... It was my sister, with whom I had left the chairs with, when I departed for Australia, had at one point during an attic clear out, thought of putting them in a boot sale for five shillings each, ... fortunately she didn't. / Incidentally, the chair was a joint donation of the Knaus' AND myself as inscribed on the base of the chair along with the names of a few of the more eminent sitters. / The Power House Museum in Sydney had made some overtures regarding the chair, but I had already made up my mind that the rightful place for it was in the U.K. after discussing this with David Knaus I had initially thought of the NPG (U.K) but as the V&A had a furniture section, it was the obvious choice of venue. / With the success of the exhibition, it would seem that the right choice was taken.'

However, it is thought that Heal's sold only genuine model 3107 chairs made by Fritz Hansen, so Morley's claim to have bought this chair at Heal's is in doubt.

This object was previously on long-term loan the V&A from 2001-2013 [2001/760]. In 2013, it was acquired as a gift from Lewis Morley and Dr and Mrs. John V. Knaus [2013/394].

Descriptive line

Stacking chair; moulded plywood and tubular steel; style of Arne Jacobsen, retailed by Heal & Son; made ca.1960; photographed by Lewis Morley with Christine Keeler in 1963

Production Note

Reason For Production: Retail

Materials

Plywood; Tubular steel

Techniques

Moulding; Bending

Categories

Furniture; Politics; Photographs

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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