Chair thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Chair

ca. 1805 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Object Type
This is a very distinctive example of a 'klismos' chair, with a single, central support for the shaped back. Usually this type of chair has two supports for the back. As the seat of the chair is caned, it is fitted with a cushion, made to resemble the original, which was called a squab.

People
Matthew Boulton, the manufacturer of metalwares, may have ordered this chair around 1805 for Soho House, his home in Birmingham. It is one of a pair that was sold in 1988 from Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, the home of his descendants. The other chair is now at Soho House.

Ownership & Use
Klismos chairs appeared in Britain around 1800. Thomas Hope, a collector of classical Greek vases, furnished his London house with klismos chairs by 1801. He illustrated views of its interiors in his book Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in 1807. Other collectors of classical Greek vases who may have owned klismos chairs include the architect Sir John Soane and the artist Adam Buck.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Chair
  • Seat
Materials and techniques
Mahogany with cane seat; modern leather cushion
Brief description
Klismos chair, mahogany with a caned seat and leather upholstery. British, 1805. Probably made by James Newton.
Dimensions
  • Height: 89cm
  • Width: 55cm
  • Depth: 66cm
Gallery label
  • This chair was almost certainly made for Soho House, Birmingham, the home of the celebrated industrialist, Matthew Boulton. It later became part of the furnishings of Tew Park, Oxfordshire, the home of Boulton's son Matthew Robinson Boulton.(pre 1996)
  • This chair may have been made for Soho House, Birmingham, the home of the famous industrialist Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and was acquired from Tew Park, Oxfordshire, owned by his descendents. It is based upon a klismos, a classical Greek chair form, and another exapmle was designed for Sir John Soane's house, Pitshanger Manor.(1996)
  • CHAIR ENGLISH; 1805-1809 Mahogany with leather upholstery Probably made in the workshop of George Bullock (1782/3-1818) to the design of either George Bullock or J.M. Gandy (1771-1843). This chair was almost certainly made for Soho House, Birmingham, the home of the celebrated industrialist Matthew Boulton. It later became part of the furnishings of Tew Park, Oxfordshire, the home of Boulton's son Matthew Robinson Boulton.(pre October 2000)
  • British Galleries: This chair was based on an ancient Greek chair known as a 'klismos', often shown on classical Greek vases and stone carvings. The form became fashionable throughout Europe from about 1800. This example was almost certainly made for Soho House, the Birmingham home of the metalwares entrepreneur Matthew Boulton (1728-1809).(27/03/2003)
Object history
This chair may have been made for Soho House, Birmingham, the home of the famous industrialist Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and was acquired from Tew Park, Oxfordshire, owned by his descendents.

Designed and made in London, probably by James Newton (born in London, 1760, died 1829, possibly in London). The text notes that all the furniture was made by Georges Jacob, in mahogany. The style was described as 'Egyptian' or 'Greek'.



The chair is one of a pair sold in 1987 from Tew Park, Oxfordshire (Christie’s house sale, 27–29 May 1987, lot 148). It was bought by the V&A the following year following an export stop (when the other chair of the pair was bought by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery).



The design of the chair relates to a drawing of about 1785 made by the Parisian architect Jean-Jacques Montholon (1757-1826) for the Hôtel Montholon in the rue de la Poissonière, Paris, for the wife of Nicolas Montholon, President of the Parliament of Normandy. The design was published by Kathryn Norberg, 'Goddeses of Taste: Courtesans and their Furniture in Late-Eighteenth Century Paris', in Furnishing the Eighteenth Century. ed. Dana Goodman and Kathryn Norberg, New York and London: Routledge, 2007,pp. 77-114, illustrated as figure 6.4. The drawing shows the chair in profile, with the same widely curved legs and the single panel forming the back and sides of the chair. That chair appears to have a solid seat supporting a cushion, as on the V&A chair. Another chair, ebonised and painted with Greek figures is close in overall design (W.21-1958) but has fixed upholstery. The furniture for the Hôtel Montholon was made in mahogany by the cabinet maker Georges Jacob (1739-1814), who worked for Queen Marie Antoinette.
Summary
Object Type
This is a very distinctive example of a 'klismos' chair, with a single, central support for the shaped back. Usually this type of chair has two supports for the back. As the seat of the chair is caned, it is fitted with a cushion, made to resemble the original, which was called a squab.

People
Matthew Boulton, the manufacturer of metalwares, may have ordered this chair around 1805 for Soho House, his home in Birmingham. It is one of a pair that was sold in 1988 from Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, the home of his descendants. The other chair is now at Soho House.

Ownership & Use
Klismos chairs appeared in Britain around 1800. Thomas Hope, a collector of classical Greek vases, furnished his London house with klismos chairs by 1801. He illustrated views of its interiors in his book Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in 1807. Other collectors of classical Greek vases who may have owned klismos chairs include the architect Sir John Soane and the artist Adam Buck.
Bibliographic references
  • Spira, Andrew. British Galleries: Georgian. V&A Magazine. September-December 2001, p.22
  • Hussey, Christopher, 'Great Tew, Oxfordshire - I', Country Life, 22 July 1949, pp. 254-57 (p. 257, fig. 12).
  • Musgrave, Clifford, Regency Furniture (Faber and Faber, 1949), plate 12A
Collection
Accession number
W.2:1, 2-1988

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Record createdJuly 20, 1998
Record URL
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