Picture This LIVII

I have mentioned ‘forest chairs’ (green-painted Windsor chairs) in previous posts here, here, here and here.

The Windsor pictured below is a fine example of a late eighteenth-century forest chair.

Dark green forest chair, circa 1800. (James Graham-Stewart)

Jack Plane

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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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14 Responses to Picture This LIVII

  1. Mihai says:

    Pretty nice. Pine?

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      • Mihai says:

        Even better. Although I dont get it why they paint it. Maybe the fashion of the times…

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        • hiltonsister says:

          Wish I’d known about windsors being painted green before I painted mine (ca mid C 20th, elegant but hideously varnished when found) sexy matte black. Guessing it’s Tas Oak and another unimposing wood I can’t identify. Signed illegibly underneath by someone from Launceston. Thanks to you I’m off to my box of artist’s paints to find a suitable green to rub into the fugacious (!) black. Absolutely adore the georgian tootsies in your pictures. I recently found a couple of similarly pad-footed, leather-upholstered, blackwood chairs, supposedly from Launceston Shire Council, and bearing a Coogans metal label. My dealer tells me there were heaps of these going to the salerooms. The blackwood had faded to a livid orange and the leather was uber-distressed and split. But damn they are handsome since being linseed oiled and Neat’s foot oiled, despite the leather still shamelessly revealing the horsehair within. Combings from the mane and tail of next door’s 30 y.o.++ Shetland pony will replenish the sunken seats.

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  2. D.B. Laney says:

    Hello Jack, Do you have any idea on what the finish might be? I’m looking at this wondering if it might be some chromium oxide/linseed oil or would a casein paint have been a choice? This spurs me ever closer to a bunch of Gibson chairs for the yard.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Oil was the medium used for these out-door paints. The pigments employed on early chairs were naturally occurring greens. Oxide greens such as cobalt green and viridian weren’t discovered until the late eighteenth-century and mid nineteenth-century respectively.

      JP

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  3. Eric R says:

    Nicely done. And I must say, the green has aged quite well.

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  4. Charles says:

    I had always heard that they were painted to mask the use of difference species on different parts.

    Love the very deep and nice saddling of the seat, this looks like a very comfortable chair.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Some of the best, originally un-painted chairs are made from mixed timbers. Chairmakers took pride in the accumulated understanding of the distinct qualities of the various timbers they employed in making Windsors. Then as now, makers and sitters alike would have admired the often wild grain of the elm seats, the flecky cream of the ash legs and the honey and purple swirls of yew.

      The paint was to protect those chairs that resided outdoors from the elements. That green of one shade or another was the most popular colour choice in the eighteenth-century I think reflects their admiration for their lush and verdant gardens.

      JP

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  5. Ken Hughes says:

    In this case I’m assuming it is original paint however, do you run into a problem with identification when a period chair is repainted? The patina would be missing and construction would be covered up with paint. How do you differentiate a later or modern reproduction vs an original with relatively fresh paint?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I must admit, it is unusual for a period chair to retain this much original paint.

      Repainted chairs are often left alone, but in the case of a rare or valuable chair when conservation is requested, it is customary to very carefully remove the accumulated layers to the level of the original paint – even if that merely consists of fragmentary evidence of it. I attempted such a finish with my double bow Windsor.

      It’s simple enough to differentiate between original/old/new, though admittedly, not always from an image on-line.

      JP

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  6. Jack,
    I take it the seat is Elm, otherwise a split just waiting 200 years to happen? I have been indoctrinated to see stretchers. A very nice chair.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Yes, the seat is undoubtedly elm.

      The absence of stretchers is an unusual occurrence in such an otherwise sophisticated Windsor, and a joy to see that it has survived.

      JP

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  7. Pingback: Picture This LXXI | Pegs and 'Tails

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