Mahogany, beech, oak, leather and horsehair, brass studs
109.0 x 74.0 x 97.0 cm
Place of origin
EnglandOrder this image
Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at
A mahogany and leather upholstered reading chair or artist's chair, English, circa 1730. The curved top rail padded and fitted to each underside with a retractable hinged tray, one tray compartmented for inks or paints the other with no fittings. The slender padded back with an adjustable and retractable rest, double layered to act as a folio. The rounded padded seat with a drawer to the frieze raised on cabriole legs to the front and turned splayed legs to the back, pad feet and inset leather and brass castors. The leather possibly original with brass studding.
A chair of similar form, was popularised as the 'author's chair' of the poet, John Gay (d. 1732), when it belonged to the architect George Godwin (d. 1888) (The Builder, 30 March 1878). The poet's chair has also been referred to as 'The Barnstable Chair' (Illustrated London News, London, 1849, vol. 15, pt. 2, p. 284 and C. Graham, Ceremonial Chairs in Great Britain, Avon, 1994, p. 91, fig. 111). It is now in the collection of the V&A (museum no. W.47:1-1948) also illustrated in Ralph Edwards 'English Chairs 'London 1965 plate 55. Another chair with a hinged book-rest on the back, was formerly in the collection of The Earl of Buckingham, sold by his Executors, Sotheby's London, 25 October 1963, lot 138. Thomas Sheraton in his cabinet dictionary of 1803 illustrates a later variety and writes...'the reader places himself with his back to the front of the chair, and rests his arms on the top yoke.' This example however is slightly different in form and may have been used for painting or drawing, the rest is larger than on other examples and it has the unusual feature of being double layered for the purpose of perhaps storing a finished work for drying or to hold spare paper. There is little doubt that some of these chairs were for the sole purpose of reading but this design with its fitted pockets for inks or paints points more toward the artist but it may of course have been designed for multi purpose use. James Weedon (May 2018)
Purchased in 1987 by the National Heritage Memorial Fund from Francis Curzon, 3rd Viscount Scarsdale (1924-2000). On loan to the National Trust from the National Heritage Memorial Fund 1987-1988. Gifted to the National Trust in 1988 by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Victoria and Albert Museum.. Department of Furniture and Woodwork. English chairs. 1965., plate 55