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Armchair

possibly Thomas Roberts (fl.1686-1714)

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1685 - circa 1694

Materials

Carved, turned and joined walnut upholstered in blue silk damask

Measurements

129.5 x 65.5 x 90.0 cm

Place of origin

'The Royal Chair', Marylebone Street, Westminster, London, England

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Collection

Knole, Kent (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Knole, Kent, London and South East, National Trust

NT 129423.1

Caption

Flamboyant Royal Stuart furniture - this example is marked WP, from Whitehall Palace, its former home.

Summary

One of a pair of walnut elbow chairs, possibly by Thomas Roberts for King William III, c. 1685-94, with scrolled arms and legs carved with foliage, the front legs terminating in dolphin heads, turned side and back stretchers, as well as a finely carved apron centring in a royal crown. The stuffed seats and high backs are covered in blue silk damask with campare tassel fringe; the webbing is stamped with ‘WP’ for Whitehall Palace, under a royal crown. As is true of some upholstered furniture at Knole, the upholstery has been refitted, possibly in the 18th century, and may originally have comprised a loose cover hooked together below the arms. The pair of chairs is part of a set further comprising six stools, equally at Knole (129519.1-6). The set was probably acquired as a perquisite by Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, and Lord Chamberlain to William III between 1689 and 1697. Whitehall Palace was King William’s principal London residence. It was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1698, leaving but Inigo Jones’s Banqueting House. The ‘joiner’ Thomas Roberts (fl. 1685-1714) supplied the court with seat furniture, fire-screens and beds between 1685 and 1714. He made the coronation throne of Queen Anne in 1702; his workshops in Westminster were appropriately called ‘The Royal Chair’.

Provenance

Either a perquisite of office or a gift from William III to Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, Lord Chamberlain, between 1689 and 1697. Knole and the majority of its furniture were accepted by HM Treasury in part payment of death duties and transferred to the National Trust in 1946.

Marks and inscriptions

WP

Makers and roles

possibly Thomas Roberts (fl.1686-1714), joiner

References

Beard, 1997: Geoffrey Beard. Upholsterers and interior furnishing in England, 1530-1840. Bard studies in the decorative arts. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1997. Bowett 2002 Adam Bowett, English Furniture 1660-1714, 2002 Slocombe 2014: Emma Slocombe,'Ancient Furniture: The Display and Alteration of Upholstered Seat Furniture and Textiles associated with the Brown Gallery, Knole, in the Nineteenth Century', Furniture History L (2014): 297-325

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