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Chair
  • Chair
    Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928
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Chair

  • Place of origin:

    Isle of Man (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1916 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood and cane

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs F. J. Bassett-Lowke

  • Museum number:

    W.7:1-1970

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and became a leading architect and designer of the Glasgow School. In 1916 Mackintosh was commissioned to renovate, extend and furnish the Northampton home of Wenman J. Bassett-Lowke, 78 Derngate. The furniture was made by German craftsmen who were interned at the Knockaloe camp on the Isle of Man during the First World War.

Originally forming part of a suite of hall furniture, the chair, one of four, was painted black in keeping with the colour scheme. The lattice design of its tall back relates to features in the hall and to other items of the hall furniture, particularly a settle and mirrored cabinet. The shape of the chair seat, which tapers sharply towards the back, also finds echoes in the angular motifs Mackintosh employed in the hall’s stained-glass panels and stencilled frieze.

This rigid geometry is relieved by the gently curving profile of the back and by the subtly stepped edges of the top upper rail and lower front apron. The design of the carving, incised and on the apron also pierced, is drawn from East Asian furniture. Mackintosh had used similar motifs, appropriately, in some of his furniture and woodwork designs for the Chinese Room at the Ingram Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, in 1911.

By the time it was given to the V&A, the original finish of the chair - a black stain with a wax polish over the top - had been overpainted with a light green colour; traces of a separate layer of pinkish-red paint were also visible. This may be linked to the fact that the Bassett-Lowkes moved from Derngate in 1925 and the chair was painted to fit in with the new decorative scheme of New Ways, the house, also in Northampton, designed for them by Mackintosh's contemporary, the German architect Peter Behrens (1868-1940). This chair and its pair (W.8-1970) have subsequently been painted black to return them to their original appearance.

Physical description

Painted wood with cane seat, originally ebonised and wax polished. It is trapezoid in plan, tapering sharply towards the back. The front legs angled at the outside and square on the inside are joined by a plain square stretcher and above by a deep, apron-like front seat rail shaped on its lower edge with two rising steps at each side and in the centre a pendant square. These shapings are surrounded by double-incised lines. The back legs are slightly tapered and curved slightly backwards. They are joined to the front legs by a plain stretcher just above ground. The back legs rise to form the sides of the tall back, tapering, chamfered on their outside back edges and following an attenuated reverse S-curve. The back is filled with a grid of 12 squares in 6 vertcally stacked pairs: the framework is plain. The top rail has a cresting with 2 steps on each side which projects as a square moulding.

Place of Origin

Isle of Man (probably, made)

Date

1916 (made)

Artist/maker

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, born 1868 - died 1928 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Wood and cane

Dimensions

Height: 110.5 cm, Width: 45.7 cm, Depth: 45.7 cm

Historical context note

It was probably made by German craftsmen imprisoned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man during the First World War. It was part of a complete commission of furniture and interior design work provided by Mackintosh for the home of W. J. Bassett-Lowke, one of the founders of the Design and Industries Association and a pioneering patron of the modern movement.

Descriptive line

Chair of wood and cane, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the hall of 78 Derngate, Northampton, 1916.

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

Roger Billcliffe, 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh: the Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs' (Guildford and London: Lutterworth Press, 1979) 224. ISBN 07188 2376 1
'Ideal Home' (August 1920) 54.

Categories

Scotland

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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