CIRCA 1750
Each with square back and padded arms about a generous seat on cabriole legs carved with oak leaves and acorns on pad feet, covered in Claremont red and gold silk damask, restorations, one chair partially re-railed
38 in. (96.5 cm.) high; 30 in. (76 cm.) wide; 30 ¼ in. (77 cm.) deep
Possibly commissioned by Robert More M.P. F.R.S. (1703-1780), for the Saloon of the newly rebuilt Linley Hall, Shropshire, and by descent, at Linley, to the present owner.
J. More, A Tale of Two Houses, privately published, Shrewsbury, 1978, p. 96.

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Lot Essay

In his family history, A Tale of Two Houses, Jasper More, M.P., evocatively describes what is almost certainly the present set of seat furniture at Linley Hall, 'much of the furniture was obviously in sets but scattered all over the house in different rooms. A pair of stools in yellow silk with finely carved legs, in the drawing-room, to my untutored eyes either Chippendale or pre-Chippendale… I remembered in another room some similar legs on upright chairs, these in red silk of which we located four. Then in the dining room a large armchair in red leather whose legs also matched. It seemed that to complete the set there must be a second armchair. It was located eventually in the servants’ hall…’ (privately published, Shrewsbury, 1978, p. 96).

Although this set with its unusual oak-leaf and acorn carving to the knees is most likely to have been made by a local, rather than London, craftsman, the model relates to the prevalent London fashion and indeed Chippendale is still publishing designs for such 'French Chairs' in the 3rd edition edition of his Director (London, 1762, pl. XIX), thus the model remained associated with that greatest of cabinet-makers and hence Jasper More's attribution. Oak leaf-carved knees appear on a suite of furniture from the Irwin Untermyer collection (Y. Hackenbroch, English Furniture with some furniture of other countries in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1953, pl. 97-98, fig. 124) while carved vine leaf and grape motifs are featured on a set of walnut chairs from Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, (O. Brackett, An Encyclopaedia of English Furniture, London, 1927, pl. 158, in this comparable example undoubtedly a reference to Bacchus), a single chair was sold Christie's, London, 5 June 1997, lot 151. Other examples of related sumptuous seat furniture are known to have been made provincially, such as the chairs attributed to Wright & Elwick, Wakefield, also of circa 1750, from Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, sold, Christie's London (Spencer House), 15 July 1948, lot 53 (a set of fourteen).

The carving on these chairs is possibly an allusion to the 'Oak Avenue', the magnificent mile long driveway double-lined with oak trees that leads up to the hall (F. Leach ed., The County Seats of Shropshire, Shrewsbury, 1891, p. 81).
In 1948, and following the end of the Barrett family tenancy of Linley Hall, this suite of furniture was possibly then restored and re-upholstered by C.J. Pritchard, restorer, cabinet-maker, upholsterer and antique dealer, recorded at Fish Street, Shrewsbury from at least 1942-1967. Jasper More wrote of furniture at Linley being sent to a Mr. Pritchard in Shrewsbury, 'there was no piece of furniture that did not require repairing or repolishing. Again we found the Man to Match the Hour. Month after month a vanload would return from Mr. Pritchard in Shrewsbury to be emptied and then loaded with the next cargo. Similarly with the upholstered furniture; there was no piece that did not need new stuffing or new covers' (More op. cit., p. 100).

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