Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    Vienna (city) (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1905 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Urban, Josef, born 1872 - died 1933 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ebonised wood, with leather upholstery, brass nails and feet

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This chair, designed by Josef Urban and made by the Thonet brothers in about 1905, appears strikingly avant-garde. Its use of continuous leather upholstery over seat and back, the double leg stretchers at varying heights and the brass-capped feet would have made the design unusually advanced in 1905. However, the overall effect of the chair is somewhat severe. Perhaps this helps to explain why this chair model does not seem to have been in production as long as a comparable, more graceful, chair by Otto Wagner designed in 1901.

Physical description

Chair of ebonised beech, the feet capped with brass. The front legs are turned, the back legs are square-sectioned and rising to a turned section that is steamed and bent to form the sides and toprail of the back. On the sides and back, pairs of slender, square-sectioned stretchers are set high, though the pair on the back slightly lower than those on the sides. The seat and high back rails are treated as one shaped surface, and upholstered with leather attached with brass nails.

Place of Origin

Vienna (city) (made)


ca. 1905 (made)


Urban, Josef, born 1872 - died 1933 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Ebonised wood, with leather upholstery, brass nails and feet

Marks and inscriptions

under seat; branding

'THONET,' etc.
under seat; paper label


Height: 98.5 cm, Width: 40 cm, Depth: 53 cm

Historical context note

Josef Urban was employed to design this model, which may reflect the wish of the Thonet firm to repeat the successful experiment of using advanced designers, as the Kohn brothers (a rival firm making bentwood furniture) had since 1898. The design does not appear to have been very popular, however, as it did not remain in production long.

Descriptive line

Austrian 1905 des. Josef Urban man. Thonet

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

Jervis, Simon: Furniture Of About 1900 From Austria & Hungary In The Victoria & Albert Museum, London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1986, no.26, p. 64/65
The Art Revival in Austria, Studio Special Summer Number, 1906, illus. No. 405
Gebrüder Thonet, Hauptkatalog, Vienna, 1904, Supplementheft, I, 1905 (reprinted New York, 1980), p. 117, illus., No.405


Stain; Brass (alloy); Leather; Beech (wood)


Joining; Staining; Upholstering; Nailing


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.