The armchair, executed in 1768 by Thomas Chippendale (d. 1779) has an elegant serpentined frame in the 'French cabriole' fashion that he adopted in the 1760s. Its arched cresting is enriched with Roman acanthus, whose husks festoon the seat-rail's Venus-shell badge and Grecian palm-flowers.
Its form and ornament evolved from a suite of gilded 'French' armchairs, that he had supplied in 1766 for Sir Lawrence Dundas's Long Drawing Room at 19, Arlington Street; and the mahogany armchairs that he had recently supplied for Lady Winn's Ante-Chamber at Nostell Priory, Yorkshire (see C. Gilbert, The Life and work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. II, figs. 177 and 140).
It formed part of a suite of eight armchairs, two 'tub' bergeres and a sofa commissioned by the celebrated actor David Garrick (d. 1779) for his Thames-side villa at Hampton. It was white japanned, in the French fashion, and picked out in blue to harmonise with its brass-nailed upholstery of blue damask. Since Garrick praised the villa's 'elegance' as owing to the 'good taste' of his Viennese-born wife, Eva Marie, it is likely that she purchased the damask. Her first-floor 'Blue' apartment, overlooking Garricks's Thames-side Shakespeare temple, adjoined her own bedroom. This had also been furnished by Chippendale with a white-japanned bed, displayed French-fashion in an alcove, and decorated with green Chinoiserie ornament to harmonise with its white and richly-flowered hangings of Indian (Madras) chintz. This chair came from the Garricks' 'Blue' apartment, which generally served as a salon or withdrawing-room, since its bed was concealed in a painted and mirrored clothes-press. Both the clothes-press bed and the Garricks' bed, together with his invoice for this suite of chairs, are preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum (see M. Tomlin, Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture, London, 1982, pp.124 and 127, nos. 0/7 and 0/1).
The suite was invoiced on August 3rd 1768:-
To 8 French Arm Chairs very neatly
Carv'd & painted Blue & white, stuff'd
& cover'd with your own Blue
Damask & Brass nail'd .................................. 24 - -
8 Blue Cheque Cases to ditto ........................... 3 4 -
To 2 large Tub Chairs carv'd &
painted to match stuff'd & Cover'd
with damask & large Down Cushions
for the seats .......................................... 12 - -
2 Blue Cheque Cases to ditto ........................... 1 16 -
To a large French Sofa to match the
Chairs and cover'd with your damask
& nail'd & a large Feather Cushion ..................... 15 10 -
Blue Cheque cases for the sofa & Cushion ............... 2 2 -
The suite is listed in the 1779 Hampton inventory under 'no. 6 Bed Room next the Thames'. After '2 pair blue damask silk & stuff window curtains', it records '8 cabriold elbow chairs japann'd blue and white, stufed & cover'd with do. Damask & brass nailed with check cases to ditto, a do. Sofa & 2 do. Burjairs'. On Mrs. Garrick's death in 1823, it was included in Messrs. Burrell & Sons sale on 21-23 July 1823 of the 'Valuable and Curious Effects of the late David Garrick Esq. at Hampton'. It was then listed as lots 8, 10 and 11 in 'Room no. 11' as 'eight English cabriole elbow chairs', a 'cabriole sofa' and 'two bergieres [sic.]'.
The bergeres and six armchairs, formerly at Daylesford, Worcester were sold from the estate of Mary, Viscountess Rothermere, Christie's New York, 16 April 1994, lots 142 and 143. A further armchair from the suite was sold anonymously, Christie's New York, 12 April 1996, lot 91.