Picture This LXVII

Regular commenter on this blog, Burbidge, alerted me to a unique elm and fruitwood side chair at the Victoria & Albert Museum which incorporates several elements normally found in Windsor chairs (fig. 1).

Geo_III_elm_&_fruitwood_chair_c1760-1800_01a1Fig. 1. Chunky chinoiserie elm and fruitwood chair, circa 1760-1800. (VAM)

The solid elm seat is deeply saddled like that of a Windsor. The legs too, are tenoned into the seat like those on Windsors; however, I am unclear how the back stiles are attached to the seat.

Chinoiserie backs are common to many side chair designs of the latter half of the eighteenth-century, but again, the crest rail is typical of several patterns of eighteenth-century Windsor chairs from the Thames Valley region, including Claremont chairs (here and here).

Geo_III_elm_&_fruitwood_chair_c1760-1800_01bFig. 2. The through leg tenons can be clearly seen on the surface of the seat. (Burbidge)

Geo_III_elm_&_fruitwood_chair_c1760-1800_01cFig. 3. Square/octagonal legs and large brackets. (Burbidge)

Unfortunately Burbidge doesn’t recall how the back stiles are attached, though the museum’s blurb says the back is braced by later oak additions.

If any reader is in the vicinity of the V&A, or intends visiting the museum, I would greatly appreciate any pictures and descriptions of the back’s attachment to the chair.

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Antiques, Picture This, Seating and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Picture This LXVII

  1. Ken says:

    Would this chair have originally been painted?


  2. Vincent Nobel says:

    Your post triggered my curiosity so I just went to see the chair. Unfortunately it is located in a rather dark room. The camera on my phone didn’t pick up much at all. As is visible on the pictures you already have the chair is pushed against the wall. It is very difficult to see anything useful, and the museum staff did not fancy moving the chair, even for a quick peek, though they pointed me to the website, which unfortunately does not show a picture from the back either.

    To the right of the chair there is a lacquered cabinet, to the left a Ming dynasty vase. Both are obstructing the view.

    From looking at the chair I would suspect that it is tenoned into the seat (possibly through the seat in the windsor style) though being so close to the edge, I imagine the racking forces should have caused damage over the last 200 years. Possibly the elm is strong enough).

    This joint was possibly not sufficiently strong, hence the additional oak bracing that was supposedly added at a later stage. I am not sure whether the oak brace is bent, or sawn. Given the type of construction it wouldn’t surprise me if the oak is a replacement of an earlier original brace. The joint reminds me of the sort of joint you would use for a upholstered wingback chair that has the base made out of mahogany, with the upper part being pine or something like that and braced with a long piece across the leg and the upright of the back.

    I can just about make out the brace, which is slightly darker in colour than the rest of the chair (hard to see in this light).

    I am not quite sure what the small brackets are for to the side of the back. I can’t imagine they add a lot of strength, so possibly this is just decorative.

    sorry I can’t be more helpful, but an appointment with the curator will be required to get it off the wall.

    Kind regards,
    Vincent Nobel, London

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Warwick says:

    I really like this chair. It appeals to my aesthetic. I especially like the square to octagonal legs and the leg braces. Thanks for posting it.
    The structures which appear to be through tenons visible on the surface of the seat are off centre with the legs which would not fit so well with them being turned extensions of the legs. Also at least 2 of them seem to protrude outside the line of the legs. I wonder if they might possibly be through-dowels rather than tenons?
    There is also a hint on the side photo that the back legs extend to the top of the seat, and are notched into recesses in the seat and shaped to match the profile. If so, the back stiles may be attached in the same way? They would then be able to be attached to both the legs and the seat. They are rather thin and are positioned so far back on the seat that they seem to align with the edge of the seat, and too far back to enable a strong mortise into the seat.
    Just a few ideas


  4. Pingback: Picture This LXXV | Pegs and 'Tails

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