Chair thumbnail 1
Chair thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56c

Chair

ca. 1725 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This unusual chair is a fusion of Chinese and British forms. It appears to be an early example of the new fashion in British chairs of the 1720s and 1730s for curving backs and cabriole legs. The chair is painted, or 'japanned' red in imitation of red Chinese lacquer and is evidently intended to be in the Chinese style. It may be that it illustrates the transition of design elements from Chinese chairs to British furniture.

Time
British chairs with curving back splats and cabriole legs, usually made of walnut, and with upholstered seats, are sometimes described as 'Queen Anne' chairs. However, these chairs first came into fashion not during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), but in the reign of George I (1714-1727).

People
The construction and wood of the chair indicate that it was made in Britain, but its maker and history are not recorded. Giles Grendey (1693-1780) was the cabinet-maker most noted for the production of red japanned furniture later in the 18th century, but this piece does not resemble the chairs he produced.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Chair
  • Drop-in Seat
Materials and Techniques
Beech, japanned in gold and green on a red ground; modern upholstery
Brief Description
Japanned chair, decorated with figures in green and gold on a red ground. English, ca. 1725.
Physical Description
Wavy top rail of Chinese type supported by flat uprights supported by flat uprights of equal width throughout and of wavy profile and by similar splat,decorated with a figured scene and with growing flowers in the Chinese style. The seat is upholstered in pale yellow damask (originally crimson). Front and rear legs of cabriole form with square hoof feet.
Dimensions
  • Height: 116cm
  • Width: 56cm
  • Depth: 58.5cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 19/04/1999 by DW
Style
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Various elements of the design of this chair were influenced by Chinese furniture, such as the curving back, yoke-shaped top-rail and curved legs (known as 'cabriole' legs in Europe). European travellers and merchants would have seen such furniture in China. They also brought back illustrated Chinese novels (see photograph) that depicted furniture in Chinese interiors.(27/03/2003)
Object history
The provenance of this chair is not known.



Historical significance: This chair is an early example of a new form of chair which became popular in the first years of the 18th century, with curving backs and cabriole legs. It is not known for sure what influenced the new style, but it could have been Chinese chairs, seen in illustrations. The chair gives credence to this theory as it is decorated in paintwork in imitation of red Chinese lacquer. Paintwork in imitation of lacquer was known as 'Japanning', in reference to imported Japanese lacquer (mainly screens). The style of the chair is a precursor to the dominant 'Queen Anne' style chairs of the first half of the 18th century.
Historical context
Giles Grendey is the cabinet-maker most noted for the production of red japanned furniture, but the maker of this chair is not known
Summary
Object Type
This unusual chair is a fusion of Chinese and British forms. It appears to be an early example of the new fashion in British chairs of the 1720s and 1730s for curving backs and cabriole legs. The chair is painted, or 'japanned' red in imitation of red Chinese lacquer and is evidently intended to be in the Chinese style. It may be that it illustrates the transition of design elements from Chinese chairs to British furniture.

Time
British chairs with curving back splats and cabriole legs, usually made of walnut, and with upholstered seats, are sometimes described as 'Queen Anne' chairs. However, these chairs first came into fashion not during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), but in the reign of George I (1714-1727).

People
The construction and wood of the chair indicate that it was made in Britain, but its maker and history are not recorded. Giles Grendey (1693-1780) was the cabinet-maker most noted for the production of red japanned furniture later in the 18th century, but this piece does not resemble the chairs he produced.
Bibliographic Reference
Jackson, Anna & Jaffer, Amin (eds.) Encounters : the meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, London, V&A, 2004
Collection
Accession Number
W.44:1, 2-1938

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record createdJuly 22, 1998
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