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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1695-1705 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Walnut, carved and turned, with cane seat and back

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mr Richard J. Witty

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 2

Object Type
From about 1675 it was fashionable for chairs to have high backs. Many, like this example, had panels of cane-work in the back and seat.

Ownership & Use
The chair might have been owned by a professional person or wealthy tradesman. It would have been kept around the edge of the room, with its back to the wall, and brought forward when required.

Design & Designing
Several features suggest that the chair dates from about 1700. The front legs are dowelled into the seat rail rather than attached with stronger joints. The stylistic features that also point to this date are the plain-turned uprights at the sides of the back, the tapered barrel shape of the turned legs, and the linear mouldings around the cane panel in the back.

Materials & Making
The chair is not of the first quality, but appears to be in good original condition. This type of chair was very delicate, particularly at the joint between seat and back. Many chairs from this date have been repaired and the parts replaced. Possibly this one survived well because it did not receive heavy use. The cane-work, however, is almost certain to have been replaced because it was so easily damaged. Originally, it would have been protected by a cushion.

It is made of walnut. This hard and durable wood was valued by furniture makers, especially between 1660 and about 1760, for its beautiful colouring and suitability for carving. Cheaper versions of this type of chair were often made of beech.

The letter 'I' is punched in the seat rail. It is probably the mark of the unknown maker.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1695-1705 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Walnut, carved and turned, with cane seat and back


Height: 127 cm, Width: 44.8 cm, Depth: 49 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Mr Richard James Witty (a solicitor), of Riverside House, Mortlake, London) who offered to bequeath his collection of 15 high-backed Stuart chairs to the Museum. Oliver Brackett's report (10 August 1915) makes it clear that their fragile condition meant that they were not in regular use by the owner. 10 chairs were bequeathed after his death in 1935 (W.29 to 38 -1915)

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Caned chairs were lighter, cheaper and easier to clean than chairs with fixed upholstery. The cane was made from split leaves of palm, first imported from the Malay Peninsula in about 1650 when trade with Asia was developing. A loose cushion on the seat would have added comfort. The carving on the front stretcher and the cresting at the top of the back of this chair display the curled foliage and scrolls typical of the Restoration style. [27/03/2003]




Carving; Turning; Caning


Furniture; Woodwork


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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