Monday, September 23, 2013

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Condesa de Valencia de Don Juan Armchair, 1790-1800

The V&A
Once owned by the Condesa de Valencia de Don Juan
Madrid, 1890-1890 or 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

When this elaborate and intricately-made chair was first given to the V&A in 1919, it was thought to have been made in Vienna.  However, recent research into the piece has shown that it is both visually and physically close to furniture designed for the court in Madrid between about 1790 and 1795. Still, since new ideas were spreading throughout Europe with before unheard of speed in the late Eighteenth Century, it is not surprising that very similar designs were made in Vienna around 1806 by Gottfried August Pohle.

The chair has been cleverly designed to showcase a range of different wood tones and metal mounts. Take, for instance, the central star, with its high carving and the tiny carved “swags” of fabric inside the upper arch of the back.
 These are crafted in darker wood against the lighter mahogany of the rest of the chair. The whole of the chair, including the outlining of the legs, is made more exciting with metal fillets, and ribbed gilt-bronze plaques.  The upholstery, a complex, damask of an unusual design—which is thought to be original--even highlights the design of the chair.  Stuffed with horsehair, the curve of the seat echoes the silhouette of the chair's impressive crest

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