I made my last Windsor chair primarily because I admired that particular regional style, but also because it didn’t comprise any steam-bent components. At the time I made the comb-back chair I no longer possessed the requisite steaming equipage and didn’t particularly want to make a new steam box just for one chair – not to mention the headache of finding somewhere to stash it afterwards in a home that’s already bursting at the seams.
Well I still don’t have the space to store a steam box and boiler, but I have long been itching to make a handsome, double bow chair with a fretted splat, cabriole front legs conjoined by a crinoline stretcher and subtly decorated, turned back legs. This style of Windsor originated in the Thames Valley area of South East England around 1750 and grew rapidly in popularity, spreading to all chair-making regions of England by the early nineteenth-century. The English bow-back Windsor was also popular in North America; on the 18th of April 1765, the New York Gazette carried an advertisement for English bow-backs.
The majority of double bow chairs incorporate a central fretted splat, commensurate with Chippendale’s and other chair back designs of the period (figs. 1 & 2). Less common are those chairs with solely (an odd number of) sticks (fig. 3).
The ubiquitous wheel splat (fig.4) first appeared in the 1780s and the Prince of Wales Feathers splat (fig. 5) appeared after 1811 in honour of the Prince Regent.
One contributory factor to the Windsor chair’s growth in popularity in the second and third quarters of the eighteenth-century was in their use as garden chairs. Socialising and posing for group or family portraits outdoors became highly fashionable and the Windsor’s quaint bucolic appeal and portability lent them to life in the park (figs. 6, 7 & 8).
These outdoor chairs were known as forest chairs, though it’s unclear whether ‘forest’ refers to the (beech) forests in the Chilterns where many of them were produced or the shades of green in which they were painted (figs. 9 & 10).
I will be basing my chair on the example below and painting it in one or more shades of green when the time comes.