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Not currently on display at the V&A

Armchair

1630-1680 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This simple and strong armchair was a common type in the 16th century. Chairs of this type would be used in large farms or manor houses. There would only be one or two of these chairs in the house; other household members would sit on benches, stools or simpler chairs. This chair is made entirely of oak, with decoration in the form of relief carving and turning.

Materials & Making
The construction of the chair is extremely robust. Oak is a strong and hard-wearing wood native to Britain. The chair frame is constructed with strong mortise and tenon joints and the plain panels of the chair back are held within a sturdy frame. The legs are connected and strengthened by rectangular stretchers.

Design & Designing
The plain outline is enlivened by simple features such as the rounded front legs, which were turned on a lathe before construction. The top rail of the chair-back is ornamented with shallow relief carving of stylised flowers within circles and diamond shapes. The arms have a slight downward sweep for comfort.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oak, carved and joined; cushion is a modern reproduction
Brief Description
English, 17th c. 75/1346
Physical Description
Carved oak arm-chair. The back has two plain panels divided by a moulded upright, the top rail being carved with lozenges and rosettes, the front legs and arm supports are turned, the back legs and stretchers are rectangular.
Dimensions
  • Height: 94cm
  • Across arms width: 61.2cm
  • Depth: 55cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Armchairs were a sign of status and were usually only provided for the master of the house or important guests. Most people sat on stools or benches, known as forms. The room at Bromley-by-Bow would almost certainly have contained at least one carved oak chair, but this one was probably made in Cheshire or Lancashire. The small, pyramidal finials at the top of the back uprights were a popular motif with carvers working in that area.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mr W. W. Simpson through Art Fund
Object history
Probably made in Cheshire or south-west Lancashire



From: H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork

(London 1930), cat. 518.

"Arm-Chair; the back has two plain panels divided by a moulded upright, the top rail being carved with lozenges and rosettes; the front legs and arm supports are turned, the back legs and stretchers are rectangular.



17th century.

from catalogue: H. 3 ft. 1 in., W. 2 ft., D. 1 ft. 8in. (H. 94 cm, W. 61 cm, D. 50.8 cm)



Given by the National Art-Collections Fund from the Bequest of

Mr. W. W. Simpson."
Historical context
For comparable chairs, see Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture: The British Tradition. A History of Early Furniture in the British Isles and New England, rev. ed. (Woodbridge: ACC Art Books, 2016), p.438 ff.



Other examples

Norwich Cathedral (single back panel) with the carved letters IB
Summary
Object Type
This simple and strong armchair was a common type in the 16th century. Chairs of this type would be used in large farms or manor houses. There would only be one or two of these chairs in the house; other household members would sit on benches, stools or simpler chairs. This chair is made entirely of oak, with decoration in the form of relief carving and turning.

Materials & Making
The construction of the chair is extremely robust. Oak is a strong and hard-wearing wood native to Britain. The chair frame is constructed with strong mortise and tenon joints and the plain panels of the chair back are held within a sturdy frame. The legs are connected and strengthened by rectangular stretchers.

Design & Designing
The plain outline is enlivened by simple features such as the rounded front legs, which were turned on a lathe before construction. The top rail of the chair-back is ornamented with shallow relief carving of stylised flowers within circles and diamond shapes. The arms have a slight downward sweep for comfort.
Collection
Accession Number
W.53-1917

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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