Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
An Oak 'Greek' Side Chair
An Oak 'Greek' Side Chair

DESIGNED BY E.W. GODWIN, CIRCA 1885, MANUFACTURED BY WILLIAM WATT

Details
An Oak 'Greek' Side Chair
Designed by E.W. Godwin, circa 1885, manufactured by William Watt
Tall square-section uprights with tapering cylindrical finials, upholstered seat and back
40in. (102.2cm.) high
Original enamel plaque affixed to the underside HEIRLOOM/WILLIAM WATT'S REPRESENTATIVES/TRADEMARK REGISTERED/10 & 12 GRAFTON STREET/GOWER STREET/LONDON W.C.
Provenance
Vereker Hamilton.
Thence by descent to Elizabeth, 2nd Baroness Kilbracken.
Thence by descent to Katherine Godley.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
Archives of Bristol Museums and Galleries
Archives of the Victoria & Albert Museum
Exhibited
Temporary loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum and exhibited in 1952.

Lot Essay

Cf: Building News, 18 December 1885
See also: Jeremy Cooper, op. cit., p. 143, fig. 341
Gere and Whiteway, op. cit., p.54/5 (Similar examples illustrated) Elizabeth Aslin, E.W. Godwin. Furniture and Interior Decoration, London, 1986, passim

The 'Greek' chair seems to have been inspired by furniture carved in relief on the Parthenon's East frieze. The Elgin marbles in the British Museum provided Godwin with the chance to study these at first hand and a series of sketches (dated c.1883) are testament to this. Nevertheless the interplay of line and form, the elongated uprights and spare ebonised form, are typical of the strong oriental influence on much of Godwin's furniture. The attitude displayed in his combination of the two styles sets the chair apart from the rest of the 'Greek' or 'Egyptian' style furniture produced at the time, and sets Godwin at the forefront of a revolution in design taken up by the Scottish school and the Vienna Workshops at the turn of the century.

The chair was manufactured by William Watt as part of a group of so-called 'inexpensive furniture' and advertised in the Building News of 1885. Watt had a long association with Godwin, working with him on the commission for Dromore Castle amongst others, and it was their collaboration which produced the Japanese-style 'Art Furniture' publication of 1877.

Three versions of the chair seem to have been available: this and the following lot appear to fall into the most expensive category, other models being made either 'all plain and no moulding' or with 'cut square legs as well as uprights'. This chair bears a mark for the later Watt workshop with a different address to that of his 'Art furniture' warehouse (See Lot 27), despite the fact that both chairs were made for the same commission.

;

More from 20th Century Decorative Arts

View All
View All