Monday, March 24, 2014

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Strawberry Hill Chair, 1755

Ebonized Gothic Revival Chair, 1755
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This handsome chair was designed for the historian Horace Walpole, Fourth Earl of Oxford (and son of the first British Prime Minister), by his friend, the designer Richard Bentley who had been commissioned to design a chair with a back akin to the outline of a Gothic window.  Walpole asked that the chair be very lightweight, painted black, with a rush seat.  Bentley certainly delivered with this exquisite piece which he had constructed by the fashionable London cabinet-maker William Hallett.

Walpole was known for his collection of  furniture, however, he also frequently commissioned new furniture for his own use.  Later, he opened his lovely home to visitors and became one of the best-known exponents of the Gothic Revival style.

He was thrilled with this chair, and commissioned seven more to furnish the Great Parlor at his country residence, Strawberry Hill, in Twickenham which Walpole had modified in the Gothic Revival style.  As Walpole wished, the chair, like its cousins, is painted black to imitate ebony and boasts a back in the form of a gothic window with a drop-in seat with a black horsehair top cover.   The upholstery we see here was added in the Nineteenth Century.

Another from the set which shows the original caned seats which they all once had.

No comments: