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A PAIR OF EARLY GEORGE III 'CHINESE CHIPPENDALE' MAHOGANY SIDE CHAIRS
A PAIR OF EARLY GEORGE III 'CHINESE CHIPPENDALE' MAHOGANY SIDE CHAIRS

CIRCA 1760

Details
A PAIR OF EARLY GEORGE III 'CHINESE CHIPPENDALE' MAHOGANY SIDE CHAIRS
CIRCA 1760
Each with a ribbed, pagoda top rail and fret-carved stiles flanking Chinese paling with a central arch and further pagoda canopies, above a padded seat, on cluster-column legs with imbricated blocks and feet, C-scroll brackets and turned pillar back legs
38 1/2. in. (98 cm.) high; 22 1/2. in. (57 cm.) wide; 25 in. (64 cm.) deep

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Lot Essay

Designed in the Chinese manner expounded by Sir William Chambers in his Designs for Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils of 1757, these exotic 'Pagoda' chairs are derived from chair-leg patterns published by Thomas Chippendale in The Gentleman & Cabinet-Maker's Director, 3rd ed., London, 1762, pl. XXVII, where nine such designs were published.

They are of almost identical pattern to the celebrated suite supplied to Ingress Abbey, Kent. This was probably commissioned by the 2nd Earl of Bessborough shortly after purchasing Ingress Abbey in 1748, and it was almost certainly Chambers who provided the design, as he is known to have carried out improvements at Ingress up until, and beyond 1760, when the Abbey was sold to John Calcraft. That Chambers continued to be employed at Ingress is revealed in a letter of 4 September 1772, written by Chambers to an agent of Calcraft's, requesting payment of a long outstanding debt of £74 (J. Harris, Sir William Chambers, Knight of the Polar star, London, 1970, p. 212). The Ingress suite is illustrated in R. Edwards & P. Macquoid, The Dictionary of English Furniture, rev. ed., London, 1954, vol. III, p. 84, fig. 33 and Georgian Furniture in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1969, pl. 78.

Further related suites of Chinoiserie seat-furniture include that supplied to Lytham House, Lancashire (illustrated in Country Life, 28 July 1960, p. 189, pl. 3), another suite supplied to Sir John Mordaunt Cope, 9th Baronet (d.1770) for Bramshill, Hampshire (see the pair of stools sold from the estate of Mrs. John Hay Whitney, Sotheby's New York, 22-25 April 1999, lot 119), and a final suite commissioned by Christopher Griffin (d.1776) for Padworth House, Berkshire (illustrated in H. Avray Tipping, 'Padworth House - II', Country Life, 23 September 1922, pp. 372-77).

The chairs offered here have overstuffed seats, rather than the drop-in seats of the Ingress set, and pillar rather than square back legs. Other examples of these chairs have a baluster-form back leg, but they (and possibly also the Ingress set) must all be by the same maker. They share the same method of constructing the cluster-column front legs, utilising a square metal plate to the underside of the foot which serves to unite the separately-made elements of the legs. A chair with the same pillar back leg in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated in A Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, fig. 192, and another pair is in a Scottish private collection. Several examples have been sold at auction, all with baluster back legs, including a pair sold anonymously Christie's New York, 21 October 1999, lot 177 ($46,000 including premium) and another pair sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 10 July 2003, lot 70 (£43,020 including premium).


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