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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1640-1660 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak, with leather upholstery and brass-headed nails

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 4

Object Type
This is a typical small chair dating from about 1640-1660, made for use rather than display. The sturdy construction and leather covers would have withstood regular use, possibly as a dining chair. The seat is strengthened by a plain, square-section back and side stretchers, the lower ones at floor level.

Materials & Making
The leather seat cover, which is much worn and repaired, shows traces of stitching in an oval shape. This is evidence that the seat originally had stitching to hold the stuffing in place, withleather buttons securing the thread. Tack marks in the back of the chair show that the leather was at one time covered by later upholstery.

Design & Designing
This kind of chair was called a 'back stool' - literally, a stool with a back attached. It was the standard type from 1615 until about 1670, when fashionable chair-backs became higher and the back legs were raked backwards for greater stability. This chair is raked above seat level but the back legs are vertical.

There is a modern oak panel fixed beneath the seat to hold the stuffing in place. The back corners of the chair seat are supported by metal straps.

Physical description

Oak chair, the back and seat covered with leather and studded with brass headed nails. The front legs and front stretchers have ball turning, the two side stretchers and the back stretchers are plain.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1640-1660 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Oak, with leather upholstery and brass-headed nails


Height: 89 cm, Width: 48 cm, Depth: 49 cm

Object history note

Made in England

Leather covered chair and leather covered chair, bought from Miss A M Lyster (London, SW1) for £9, 21/2/23

Notes from R.P. 23/1408 & 23/1569

Listed on form
As "1 Chair Cromwellian covered in leather - £9"

Minute Papers
Record their condition as "chipped,…..leather worn & damaged".

23/2/23 H Clifford Smith
supports purchase stating "These Cromwellian oak chairs belong to a type which is inadequately represented in the Museum. They are in original condition & have their old leather covers".

Descriptive line

Backstool, oak, English, ca. 1650

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork
(London 1930), cat. 551.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The popularity of leather-covered chairs at this period may reflect fewer commissions for expensive upholstered furniture. This small but heavy example is typical. The repeating patterns of the bobbin-turned legs and stretcher, along with the nail heads on seat and back, are the only decoration. [27/03/2003]


Oak; Leather


Turning; Upholstery


Furniture; British Galleries


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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