A GEORGE II MAHOGANY ARMCHAIR
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY ARMCHAIR
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY ARMCHAIR
1 More
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY ARMCHAIR
4 More
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY ARMCHAIR

PROBABLY IRISH, CIRCA 1745-50

Details
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY ARMCHAIR
PROBABLY IRISH, CIRCA 1745-50
The solid cartouche back with eagles' heads and talons over a drop-in seat covered in blue silk damask, the shaped rail centered by a mask, the cabriole legs with masks at knees, on paw feet with recessed casters
Provenance
With Duveen Brothers, New York.
George S. Palmer, New London, Connecticut.
Cadwalader Fund, 1918.
Literature
H. H. Saylor, 'The Best Twelve Country Houses in America: Westomere, The Home of George S. Palmer,' Country Life in America, January 1916, p. 28.
J. Breck, 'English Furniture in the Palmer Collection', Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, December 1918, p. 276, fig. 5.
J. Breck, 'Early English Furniture in the Palmer Collection', Arts & Decoration, February 1919, p. 210.

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This intricately carved chair with its lappeted crest, eagle supports and cherub-carved front rail, is part of a storied suite of furniture at the nexus of a number of famous collections. The trailing flowers and multiple uses of eagle iconography point to Irish manufacture, although articles and research through the years have suggested such varied makers as William Hallett, Matthias Lock and Giles Grendey for the fantastical design. However, the related armchair in the collection of Sir John Soane's Museum, London has been known as the ‘Chippendale chair’ since a 1922 attribution first cited in a F. Litchfield’s History of Furniture. Soane acquired the chair for his Monk’s Parlour, or the ‘Parloir of Padre Giovanni,’ which features in the 1837 inventory as '1 Richly Carved Chair with cane seat' (H. Dorey, 'A Catalogue of the Furniture in Sir John Soane's Museum', Furniture History, 2008, no. 94, pp. 96-98). Litchfield cites a lost bill from Chippendale, while a later discussion of the suite attributes the carving to Grinling Gibbons (W. Nutting, Furniture Treasury, New York, 1954, pl. 2157). Although the maker was unknown, the elaborate design proved popular with American collectors in the early 20th century.
This armchair represents an iconic moment of American collecting in the English tradition, as collectors Charles Pendleton and George Palmer each sought to acquire chairs from the suite. Pendleton, whose collection is preserved in the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design, valued his settee and six side chairs from the suite more highly than anything else in his extensive holdings (see C. Monkhouse, American Furniture in Pendleton House, Providence, 1986, pp. 24-25). After acquiring the initial set of six side chairs, he sought to expand his holdings of the suite, entrusting the Duveen Brothers to acquire the matching settee from the hall of the Burlington Hotel, London. As part of the negotiations of the purchase further replica settees were made by Rhode Island craftsmen for the London hotel and Pendleton’s own collection. He later lost out on the armchair (the present lot) and side chair to George Palmer who was also acquiring “Chippendale” furniture from Duveen circa 1892-1900, and who eventually sold the pieces to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as discussed in the museum's 1918 Arts & Decoration article.
The comical 1915 compendium A Chippendale Romance outlines the above collections using the pseudonyms Remington and Chalmers for the American collectors, identifying a total of two armchairs, eight side chairs and a double chairback settee. It introduces a side chair in a London collection of “Yorke” (E.H. Gay, A Chippendale Romance, New York, 1915, pp. 137, 139-40), which remains currently unidentified.
The carving and artistry of the present lot is exquisite, and although the maker and eighteenth century provenance for these chairs is unclear, the popularity of the design has held. Examples of the same model of chair are also in the Museum of London and in the Rockefeller Estate 'Kykuit', although dating for each remains unclear. Numerous later examples abound, including a related chair attributed to Sidney Letts, circa 1910, sold from the collection of H. J. Joel, Esq., The Stud House, Childwick Bury, Hertfordshire, Christie's, London, 1 April 1993, lot 171, and again Christie's, London, 26 January 2011, lot 240.

More from American Collecting in the English Tradition: Property of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

View All
View All