Not currently on display at the V&A

Chair Squab

1823 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This squab, or seat cushion, was made for a chair with a cane seat, part of a large suite of furniture commissioned in 1823 by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland for his London home, Northumberland House. The firm of Morel & Hughes supplied the furniture and upholstery, including the set of six chairs, with cushions covered in patterned grey silk and trimmed with silk gimp, for the ante-room to the crimson drawing room. Although the silk cover does not survive, this is a typical example of a squab cushion, constructed like a mattress, with a top and bottom joined by borders, the sides stitched to give a firm, upright, edge. Squab cushions were supplied in different sizes for chairs, couches and sofas and were usually tufted, a predecessor of buttoning and a method used to hold the horsehair stuffing in place. This cushion had tufts, made of thread, on the top and bottom, joined by twine through the stuffing.

Although the linen covering the underside is not in good condition, this squab shows the methods and materials used by upholsterers to provide firm and comfortable seat cushions for Regency furniture.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen with horsehair stuffing, over stitching, top stitching and running stitches.
Brief Description
linen with horsehair stuffing; from a side chair, part of a suite made for Northumberland House, London, by Morel & Hughes, English, 1823
Physical Description
The squab has a curved front and straight back, with sides that slightly taper towards the back corners, which are shaped to fit around the bottom of the back stiles of the chair. The filling is black and white horsehair, covered with a linen panel on the top and bottom, and a separate linen border which forms the sides and is joined to the top and bottom panels with very fine over stitching. There is one row of top stitching, possibly linen, along the edge of the border and three rows of running stitch below. A quilting or tufting pattern is visible in the creases on the top and bottom panels with remnants of tufting twine, a thicker plied thread which may be linen or hemp.



The underside is in poor condition with areas of torn and missing linen.
Dimensions
  • Height: 9.5cm
  • Of border height: 5.3cm
  • At front width: 49cm
  • At back between corners width: 31.5cm
  • Depth: 50.7cm
Measured on object
Object history
This squab cushion was made for a side chair with a cane seat, part of a suite of furniture commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland from Morel & Hughes, the London firm of upholsterers and cabinet-makers. The suite was supplied for the Ante-Room to the Crimson Drawing Room, Northumberland House, London, in 1823.



The bill, dated 31 March 1823 (Northumberland Archives UI 64), shows that the eight side chairs cost £189 12s, including 'a seat cushion to each of horsehair in canvas'. The cases, or top covers, for the cushions were made of grey silk with a design of stripes and rosettes, lined in white calico, and trimmed with silk gimp and cord, and the backs of the chairs covered in the same silk, at a cost of £8 16s.



Six of the side chairs and two bergères, or low upholstered chairs, from the suite were sold from the collection of David Style at Wateringbury Place by Christie's, 1 June 1978. One of these bergères is also in the Museum's collection (Museum No.W. 48-1979). The second bergère, and two of the side chairs, were acquired by Towneley Hall Art Gallery, Burnley.



Other pieces from the suite, including two side chairs and eight stools, remain in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland.
Summary
This squab, or seat cushion, was made for a chair with a cane seat, part of a large suite of furniture commissioned in 1823 by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland for his London home, Northumberland House. The firm of Morel & Hughes supplied the furniture and upholstery, including the set of six chairs, with cushions covered in patterned grey silk and trimmed with silk gimp, for the ante-room to the crimson drawing room. Although the silk cover does not survive, this is a typical example of a squab cushion, constructed like a mattress, with a top and bottom joined by borders, the sides stitched to give a firm, upright, edge. Squab cushions were supplied in different sizes for chairs, couches and sofas and were usually tufted, a predecessor of buttoning and a method used to hold the horsehair stuffing in place. This cushion had tufts, made of thread, on the top and bottom, joined by twine through the stuffing.



Although the linen covering the underside is not in good condition, this squab shows the methods and materials used by upholsterers to provide firm and comfortable seat cushions for Regency furniture.
Associated Object
Collection
Accession Number
W.46-1980

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record createdJune 23, 2004
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