Chair

ca. 1905 (made)
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Ebonised wood, with leather upholstery, brass nails and feet
Brief Description
Austrian 1905 des. Josef Urban man. Thonet
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.
Dimensions
  • Height: 98.5cm
  • Width: 40cm
  • Depth: 53cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'THONET AUSTRIA' (under seat; branding)
  • 'THONET,' etc. (under seat; paper label)
Historical context
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.
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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
Collection
Accession Number
W.27-1982

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record createdOctober 6, 2003
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