Settee thumbnail 1
Settee thumbnail 2
+1
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Settee

1850-1870 (made)
Place Of Origin

The 'ribbon-back' chair is one of the best-known of the designs published in Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, but very few surviving chairs in this style are certain to have been made in the 18th century. Many examples appear, like this set, to have been made after 1850, as fashionable reproductions and after about 1890, when antique-collecting grew in popularity, as fakes intended to deceive. When it was bequeathed to the Museum in 1935 this suite of seat furniture was thought to have been made in about 1760, but more recent physical investigation and documentary research suggests that it was probably made for John and Hannah Liddell, for a house at Netherton in Northumberland, where they lived from 1858 to 1877. The suite originally consisted of six or eight chairs and two settees. The two settees and four of the chairs are in the Museum's collection.


object details
Object Type
Brief Description
English, 1850-1870. 80/135
Physical Description
Mahogany settee, carved in relief after Chippendale's 'Ribband Back' design.
Dimensions
  • Height: 189.2cm
  • Width: 115.3cm
  • Depth: 33cm
Dimensions converted from imperial measurements taken from F&W Dept Register.
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mr C. B. O. Clarke
Object history
When acquired by the Museum in 1935 as part of the bequest of Mr C.B.O. Clarke, the settee and accompanying chairs, (Museum numbers W.65, 65A,65B & 65C-1935) were thought to have been made in about 1760, shortly after the design on which they were based was published: Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1st Edition (1754), plate XVI, 'Ribband Back Chairs', left-hand design. The Museum later acquired another settee from the set (W.6-1965). However, physical investigation suggested that the set was made in the second half of the 19th century, and in 2015 historical information supporting a date of the late 1850s or 1860s was discovered and published (see references). The suite appears to have been made for a mining engineer and colliery supervisor in Northumberland, John Robinson Liddell (1826-1887) and his wife Hannah Isabella, nee Matthews (1827-1911). It is likely that that the suite was made in Newcastle upon Tyne, possibly by Sopwith & Co.
Summary
The 'ribbon-back' chair is one of the best-known of the designs published in Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, but very few surviving chairs in this style are certain to have been made in the 18th century. Many examples appear, like this set, to have been made after 1850, as fashionable reproductions and after about 1890, when antique-collecting grew in popularity, as fakes intended to deceive. When it was bequeathed to the Museum in 1935 this suite of seat furniture was thought to have been made in about 1760, but more recent physical investigation and documentary research suggests that it was probably made for John and Hannah Liddell, for a house at Netherton in Northumberland, where they lived from 1858 to 1877. The suite originally consisted of six or eight chairs and two settees. The two settees and four of the chairs are in the Museum's collection.
Bibliographic Reference
in Coleridge, A. Chippendale Furniture, Faber and Faber, 1968, figure 174. Lucy Wood, 'Tied up in knots: Three centuries of the ribbon-back chair', in Furniture History Journal, Vol.LI, 2015, pp.241-270. The settee is illustrated
Collection
Accession Number
W.64-1935

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 24, 2009
Record URL