Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Prince of Wales Chair, 1788

1788, England
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This isn’t just a pretty chair. It’s a pretty chair with a message. The chair pattern, with a heart-shaped back incorporates the Prince of Wales’ emblem of three feathers. This was a very popular motif in the late 1780s and 1790s.

The chair is the work of the firm of Gillow & Company, of Lancaster and London who called the design, “Drapery and feather back” and produced it in numbers around 1788. So, what was with all the love for the Prince of Wales at the time?

In 1787, the Prince of Wales took power as Regent when his father, George III, suffered a “temporary” bout of insanity as an offshoot of the illness porphyria. Even before that, the Prince was a popular figure who took something of a prominent role in the court long before his father’s illness was made public. Funny that when he finally became King George IV, he was largely hated by courtier and commoner alike. 

The chair of carved mahogany still has its original black horse hair covering beneath the upholstery which is clearly modern.

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