Design for an armchair for the 4th Duke of Beaufort thumbnail 1
Design for an armchair for the 4th Duke of Beaufort thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E

Design for an armchair for the 4th Duke of Beaufort

Drawing
ca.1752-1754 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This presentation design for a chair by John Linnell ca.1754 demonstrates the popularity of 'Chinese'-inspired furniture during the 18th century. It is the original design for a set of chairs ordered for the bedroom at Badminton House, Gloucestershire, for the 4th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. Linnell’s design is highly original and sections of various Chinese fretwork patterns form the back and armrests of the chair. Features such as the pagoda finial and the Chinese-inspired lambrequin (fabric motif) embellishment display the European adaptation of Asian motifs for popular consumption. This style was known as chinoiserie.

The museum has two of the eight chairs which were ordered as well as the Badminton Bed which the Linnell workshop supplied along with a dressing table and a pair of dwarf bookcases, also in the Chinese style for Badminton House. The Badminton chairs within the museum are, however, different to Linnell’s original drawing where the tracery of the back is rectilinear and the arms are curved. The chairs were repainted black and gold ca.1830-1840, in imitation of lacquer.

The design of the bedroom at Badminton House demonstrates the popularity of having one room decorated ‘in the Chinese style’ during the 18th century. Despite her criticism of this style, individuals such as Mrs Montague (another celebrated patron of the Linnell firm and a leader of fashion) had a Chinese room at her house in Hill Street, St. James's (London) decorated with very similar pieces of furniture by William Linnell. The Linnells also supplied a set of ten ‘bamboo chairs’ for William Drake (a wealthy young man who inherited property in London and Buckinghamshire) for his country house Shardeloes, Buckinghamshire, 1767 (Hayward and Kirkham). The backs of these chairs are extremely similar in design to some of the fretwork panels on the design for the Badminton chair, once again exhibiting the taste for chinoiserie at this time.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
pencil, pen and yellow, red and blue watercolour
Brief Description
Design for an armchair for the 4th Duke of Beaufort in pencil, pen and watercolour, from a volume of designs for furniture, interior decoration and architectural fittings, by John Linnell, Great Britain, ca.1752-1754
Physical Description
A design for a chinoiserie-inspired chair for Badminton House, Gloucestershire, the frame is painted with red watercolour. The chair back and arms are composed from different Chinese fretwork patterns with certain structural features in blue, yellow, red and pink watercolour. The finial of the chair back takes the form of a Chinese pagoda while the bottom of the chair back is decorated with a lambrequin (fabric) motif. The chair has been designed with a plain seat cover, hanging from it is a lambrequin fabric with a fringe of yellow tassels. The back legs are raked while the front legs are rectilinear. One of a set of designs for furniture, including chairs and state beds, interior decoration, including pier glasses, and architectural fittings including chimney pieces and doors. In a volume.
Dimensions
  • Volume height: 22.5cm
  • Volume width: 17.7cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'D. Beaufort' (Verso)
Object history
John Linnell (1729-1796) was the son of the furniture maker William Linnell (ca. 1703-1763) and gained his design education from the St Martin’s Lane Academy, a drawing school for craftspeople. The influence that the St. Martin’s Lane Academy had upon Linnell’s designs are evident through his adoption of rococo forms and motifs, largely inspired by the stylistic precedents emerging from France during this period which were taught at the Academy. Following his design education he joined his father’s firm as a designer. During his lifetime John Linnell designed high quality furniture, which rivalled that of other leading furniture makers such as Thomas Chippendale, John Cobb and William Ince and John Mayhew. He also incorporated the fashionable neoclassical style within his designs which became popular in the latter half of the 18th century.



Selections from his portfolios were made, after his death, by C.H. Tatham, and arranged in scrapbooks, possibly with the intention of publishing them. Two of the volumes were acquired by the Museum in 1911. (See E. 3466-3739-1911, no longer in volumes, but mounted separately.) The album had previously belonged to Tatham's daughter Julia, the wife of George Richmond. (Ward-Jackson, P. English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century, V&A; London (1958) p54-55).



Historical context
Engravers and cabinetmakers such as Chippendale were also publishing designs for Chinese furniture. The design of the bedroom at Badminton House indicates the popularity of having one room in the house decorated ‘in the Chinese style’. Individuals such as Mrs Montague (a celebrated patron of the Linnell firm and a leader of fashion) had a Chinese room at her house in Hill Street, St. James's, decorated with very similar pieces of furniture by William Linnell, despite her criticism of this style.
Subjects depicted
Association
Summary
This presentation design for a chair by John Linnell ca.1754 demonstrates the popularity of 'Chinese'-inspired furniture during the 18th century. It is the original design for a set of chairs ordered for the bedroom at Badminton House, Gloucestershire, for the 4th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. Linnell’s design is highly original and sections of various Chinese fretwork patterns form the back and armrests of the chair. Features such as the pagoda finial and the Chinese-inspired lambrequin (fabric motif) embellishment display the European adaptation of Asian motifs for popular consumption. This style was known as chinoiserie.



The museum has two of the eight chairs which were ordered as well as the Badminton Bed which the Linnell workshop supplied along with a dressing table and a pair of dwarf bookcases, also in the Chinese style for Badminton House. The Badminton chairs within the museum are, however, different to Linnell’s original drawing where the tracery of the back is rectilinear and the arms are curved. The chairs were repainted black and gold ca.1830-1840, in imitation of lacquer.



The design of the bedroom at Badminton House demonstrates the popularity of having one room decorated ‘in the Chinese style’ during the 18th century. Despite her criticism of this style, individuals such as Mrs Montague (another celebrated patron of the Linnell firm and a leader of fashion) had a Chinese room at her house in Hill Street, St. James's (London) decorated with very similar pieces of furniture by William Linnell. The Linnells also supplied a set of ten ‘bamboo chairs’ for William Drake (a wealthy young man who inherited property in London and Buckinghamshire) for his country house Shardeloes, Buckinghamshire, 1767 (Hayward and Kirkham). The backs of these chairs are extremely similar in design to some of the fretwork panels on the design for the Badminton chair, once again exhibiting the taste for chinoiserie at this time.

Associated Object
W.33-1990 (Object)
Bibliographic References
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1929, London: Board of Education, 1930.
  • Hayward, H. and Kirkham, P. William and John Linnell Eighteenth Century London Furniture Makers, London; Studio Vista, Christie’s (1980)
Collection
Accession Number
E.71-1929

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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