Robert Bakewell’s Chair

A somewhat uncommendable provincial chair in The Collection from The Royal Agricultural Society of England (fig. 1), auctioned by Dreweatts at Bloomsbury House, London on the 11th of July, sold for £9,000 ($16,370).

Robert_Bakewell_chair_c1750_01aFig. 1. Unusual country-made chair, circa 1750. (Dreweatts)

Lot 110 was a George II open armchair with an elm seat, oak armrest and – most rare in British furniture – a backrest made of willow.

The chair belonged to Robert Bakewell (1725-1795), an agriculturalist recognized as one of the most important figures in the British Agricultural Revolution. In addition to work in agronomy, Bakewell is particularly notable as the first to implement systematic selective breeding of livestock. His advancements not only led to specific improvements in sheep, cattle and horses, but contributed to the general knowledge of artificial selection.

On the back of Bakewell’s chair an inscription reads:

This chair was made under the direction of the Celebrated Robert Bakewell of Dishley out of a Willow Tree that grew on his Farm- It was his favourite seat and the Back which thus records his Memory, served as a Screen when seated by his Fireside, calculating on the Profits, or devising some Improvements on his Farm. – Thousands of Pounds have been known to exchange Hands in the same… Mr. Bakewell Died in 1795.

Robert_Bakewell_chair_c1750_01bFig. 2. Willow back with dedication. (Dreweatts)

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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3 Responses to Robert Bakewell’s Chair

  1. Brian Smith says:

    Any insight or thoughts on the joinery of the back to the armrest?
    Brian Smith


    • Jack Plane says:

      My guess is that the back rest was added to a pre-existing chair. The joinery is amateurish with little thought for efficacy or longevity: The back board appears to be simply slotted into the three-piece arm and uses the central arm support to bear against.



  2. Peter Frost says:

    Very different to most of the pieces discussed in this blog, but amateurish joinery or not, the chair survived the 250+ years in reasonable shape!


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