Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Home Beautiful: The James Wyatt Armchair, 1805

Oak Armchair
C. 1805
The Victoria & Albert Museum

There’s something wholly English about this open armchair of oak, with cluster-column legs. Crafted in the Gothic Revival style, it is decorated with a turned ring at half height, and square armrests which enclose gothic tracery carving . The back is pierced and divided by cluster-columns into three arcades with tracery carving, The top rail forms a pediment which surrounds further tracery motifs.

The chair is said to be the work of the architect James Wyatt (1746-1813) who may have made it for one of the interiors that the Prince Regent, later George IV, commissioned for Carlton House in London. Records show that the Gothic Library at Carlton House, was supplied with a set of oak seat furniture in 1808. This chair may belong to that set.

Curiously, the chair bears the inventory mark of Windsor Castle. The mark was added about 1835, indicating that this chair eventually ended up at Windsor around the time of William IV. Eight matching side chairs are still in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. Why or how this one escaped is something of a mystery.

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