Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Lawrence Alma-Tadema Chair , 1884-6

Armchair designed by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
London, 1884-6
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This superb and luxurious armchair, dating between 1884 and 1886, once formed part of a lavish suite of furniture, costing at the time, the-then astronomical price of £25,000.  It was designed for the music room of the New York mansion of Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819-1902). a highly successful American entrepreneur, art collector and benefactor.

The armchair sports Marquand's initials on the back as did the other pieces in the suite which included two settees, the mate to this armchair (now in the Melbourne National Gallery of Victoria), two piano stools and a piano decorated by Sir Edward Poynter (1836-1919).

Famed painter and designer Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) designed this chair which was made in London by Johnstone, Norman & Co.  The armchair is made of mahogany, with cedar and ebony veneer, and is inlaid in ivory and abalone shell.

The suite of furniture was exhibited in Johnstone & Norman's shop in New Bond Street, London, before being sent to America.  The original upholstery was described in the 1903 Marquand sales catalogue as “silk of an ashen olive hue, embroidered with panels ... of the Greek wave design.” 

Marquand’s parlor was entirely in the Grecian style and was popularly called among his friends, the”Greek Parlor.”  This impressive space served also as the music room of Marquand's house on Madison Avenue in New York. This music room housed Marquand's important collection of classical antiquities. Meanwhile, other rooms in the mansion were decorated in styles that reflected the different aspects of his collections.


Anonymous said...

Only knew Alma-Tadema as a painter. Never knew he designed furniture. Thanks for enlightening me. One itsy-bitsy thing, letters are transposed in the blog post...Tameda needs to be retyped as Tadema in the title and elsewhere in the post. Again, thanks for an interesting post.

Joseph Crisalli said...

After writing about Alma-Tadema since college, you'd think I'd have stopped making that same typo over the last twenty years, but I still do it. Something in my brain wants his name to sound like the 30s. Thank you.