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Brief description

One of a set of four mahogany chairs in the style of Thomas Chippendale with a pierced gothic splat, a top-rail with carved foliate terminals and modern horsehair upholstery, probably made in England c.1765.

Object name


Object number



Room 9 (1930s Room)

Production date

c.1765 (manufactured)

Production place

England (manufactured)


Georgian (1714-1837)





Physical description

Mahogany chair with a pierced gothic splat, a top-rail with carved foliate terminals and a modern horsehair upholstered seat. The back rail is veneered with mahogany. There are some old nail holes in the underside of the seat frame. There is some light wear to the feet. There is a small dent on the outside of the left-hand stretcher.

The seat rails only have corner braces at the front corners. The back stretcher is very slightly inset from the rear face of the legs. The stretchers have possibly been replace. The back seat rail appears to be made of walnut.

The chair is an even mahogany brown colour with heavier patination and staining to the back of the rail and the shoe . There is similar evidence of staining apparent, particularly on the back of the shoe. The chair has a spliced repair to the heel of the back left leg. There is also some light wear and tear to the feet. The rear seat rail is made of elm faced with a quarter inch of mahogany and with a single erratic row of multiple nail holes. The left, right and front seat rails and the corner braces are made of elm. The corner braces are not nailed.


Height: 94.5cm
Width: 57.3cm
Depth: 47.5cm
Depth: 55.5cm

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Object history note

This chair is one of a set of four. They are in the style of Thomas Chippendale and are closely related to a design in the 1762 edition of Chippendale's Gentlemen and Cabinet Makers Directory. The chairs were reupholstered in November 2006.


Adam Bowett, independent furniture historian examined this object on 23 February 2009.

He described the object as a mahogany chair dating from c.1765. It has an undulating back, an eared top rails over an interlaced carved splat and stands on square moulded and channelled legs joined by plain stretchers. The seat is covered in close-nailed modern black horsehair upholstery which was replaced by Chapman’s on London in 2006.

He noted that the design of this chair is based on plate XVI of the 3rd edition of The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (1762), by Thomas Chippendale. This design probably remained fashionable for about ten years thereafter, before being superseded by the neo-classical styles of the 1770s.

The chair is constructed in a similar way to 30/2006-2. The top rails are probably joined to the back posts by stub tenon joints on the tops of the posts. The splat is fixed into the top rail by three long bare-faced tenons of unequal size while the base of the splat is tenoned into the back seat rail and the joint is concealed by a shoe (a raised pedestal which allows the splat to be fitted without impacting the upholstery/ seat rail), which is nailed and possibly glued to the back rail. The seat rails are tenoned into the legs and braced across the corners with diagonal braces housed in slotted mortices. The stretchers are tenoned into the legs except for the medial stretcher which is dovetailed into the side stretchers from below.

However unlike 30/2006-1, the front right and back rails of this chair are made of poor quality walnut, while the left hand rail and corner braces are made of birch. The seat rails only have braces at the front corners which these are not nailed. The back stretcher is inset from the face of the back legs while the medial stretcher is tenoned rather than dovetailed into the side stretchers and is set back further from the front legs. The stretchers on this chair are also slightly thinner than on 30/2006-1.

There is a slight repair to the top of the left upright. There is also a spliced repair to the heel of the back left. There is some wear and tear to the feet as for 30/2006-2. The rear seat rail is of elm faced with quarter inch of mahogany and a single erratic row of multiple nail holes. The left and right seat rails and the front rail are made of elm. The corner braces are made of elm and are not nailed.

The construction of this chair is flimsier than 30/2006-1, which may have been used as the pattern chair for the set. With the exception of the seat rails which may have been replaced on this chair it is the same as 30/2006-2.

Comparing this chair with the others in the set, numbers 30/2006-1, 2 and to 4, Adam Bowett noted that with the exception of repairs to rails and braces, 30/2006-2, 30/2006-3, and 30/2006-4 are a set, and clearly different from 30/2006-1. This difference could be explained if 30/2006-1 is the pattern chair on which the others were based. Alternatively while 30/2006-1 could be the period chair the other three could be later copies or alternately 30/2006-2, 3 and 4 could be originals with 30/2006-1 as a copy. He suggested that further investigation could be used to investigate the difference such as wood analysis to determine the materials used in the seat rails or surface analysis to compare the surface history of the chairs.

A full transcript of notes from this examination is available on the object's history file.

This set of chairs was used by Michael, 16 in the Stories of the World Poetic Licence project 10/11/2010 to 15/11/2010. He said ‘I enjoyed getting close to the chair, getting into the room. I’ve never been in the Georgian room before.’ His poem which appeared in Carved in Gold, a Digital Story Film is below:

Bright gold
Shining light
See through
Glass door

Lonely throne
Looking for friend
To love
Beautiful, rectangle.
Soft wood.
Scared of the dark

Excited as a circus elephant
Someone loves me
Sitting happily together, sharing lunch
Chewing mahogany
Growing tall
Staying fresh
Shining like golden buttons
Beautiful marriage
King’s castle
Walk on water

Bad people steal
Take my wife
My life
Bloody police
Didn't look
Freezing cold
Like the north pole

Bright gold
Shining light
See through
Glass door


Label text for 1790 Period Room (Room 4), Geffrye Museum, 2010:
The design of the chair backs is taken from the 1762 edition of the
pattern book by Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director. The seats are covered with horsehair, which was commonly used for parlour chairs in middling homes towards the end of the eighteenth century. Unlike woollen fabric or silk, it could be easily wiped clean.
Mahogany, after 1762, replica upholstery in horsehair
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