The very first chairs were primitive, tree trunks hollowed out above the “seat”, the hollowed part providing a back, created for the human need to have a comfortable place to sit down and rest and savor the many pleasures of life that are better enjoyed seated, such as dining, reading, playing games and conversing.
From humble beginnings, the chair has evolved with flights of fancy, specific needs and functions into some extraordinary forms. Chairs not only provide us with a place to sit down, but in their myriad shapes they present us with pleasing sculptural forms, that filled the rooms of the English house.
Let us begin in the entrance hall with a pair of 18th century hall chairs, baroque in form, the backs painted with flowers in the Dutch style, the base with a painted coat of arms, the Child family crest and Latin motto “Imitare Quam Invidere”, [Imitate Rather Than Envy].
Moving toward the great room we find a rare William and Mary tall backed ebonized open armchair, the back with pierced open geometric pattern, curvilinear arms and rococo scrolled base and feet. Nearby is an elegant George II graceful open armchair with shepherd crook arms inspired by the simple shape of a shepherd’s staff.
As we go down the hall, we peek into the music room and see the cellist’s chair with low arms, carved modified cabriole legs with scroll feet.
Then we see the wing chair designed to protect one from the drafts and chills of English winters. This model is very curvilinear, the arms even having elegant elbow rests., fit for a grande dame.
Then we come across a pair of ladder back open armchairs with pierced back splats on “bamboo” form legs and two startlingly modern looking 18th century “X” back side chairs from a set of six.
There is a strong, carved George II open armchair with upholstered seat and back which would originally have been in needlepoint, now in a textured animal print.
In the library we find an unusual corner chair, carved in oak with a curved crest ending in paper scrolls, the arms ending in circular rests for drinks, the central cabriole leg with foliate carving.
In the dining room we find a long set of twelve George III carved mahogany dining chairs by James X Dyer, several of which are signed.
In the breakfast room we find a set of ten Regency painted and caned chairs by Gillows accompanied by a copy of the original bill of sale dated 1801.
Then we come to the cousin of the chair, the window bench. This one is Adam period with scrolled mahogany arm supports, upholstered arms and seat above a fluted frieze ending with paterae above round fluted tapering legs.
These and other treasures are on view during the exhibition at Philip Colleck, Ltd., 311 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022.
EXTRAORDINARY CHAIRS: SINGLES, PAIRS AND SETS
A Holiday Exhibition at Philip Colleck, Ltd.
December Ist, 2011 to January 10th, 2012