London, South Kensington
6 October 1999
A Victorian upholstered walnut hall settee, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, manufactured by James Capel for Blackmoor House, c.1870
The arms decorated with diaper detailing, the legs and seat front with geometric motifs, original brass castors, the high back, seat and padded armrests upholstered with original fabric designed by Waterhouse
72in. (183.5cm.) wide, 40in. (103cm.) high, 26in. (66cm.) maximum depth
The Earls of Selbourne
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Cf: Jeremy Cooper Victorian and Edwardian Furniture and Interiors
Hong Kong, 1986, pp.106-107 (chair and sofa from Manchester Town Hall illustrated)
See also: Jill Lever (ed), Architects' Designs for Furniture, London 1982, pp.83-4.
Furniture designs from only nine of Waterhouse's commissions are know to exist and the first recorded piece was made in December 1867. The Blackmoor commission therefore stands at the forefront of his innovations in this field. The "latticework" construction of the arms, when considered alongside the decoration of the other pieces, gives a foretaste of the culmination of his adventurouness, the "Japanese" project for the interior of Girton College, Cambridge in 1872.
A survey of the drawings at the RIBA shows that the project for the Manchester Town Hall borrows heavily from Blackmoor pieces and this lot in particular.
The settee is still upholstered in the original silk/wool fabric designed by Waterhouse himself.
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