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Brief description

Armchair made from beech, painted and gilded with a carved lion's paw detail on the arms and a cane seat, with a replica silk squab cushion, probably manufactured in England in c.1810.

Object name


Object number


Production date

c.1810 (manufactured)

Production place

England (manufactured)


Georgian (1714-1837)





Physical description

Green painted and gilt beech elbow chair with a top rail painted with a classical key pattern and a classical beast centred on a gilt tablet. The chair has scrolled arms on carved and gilt paw supports and a cane seat with a bowed front rail raised on sabre legs with small turned feet. The chair has a replica silk squab cushion.


Height: 84cm
Width: 54.5cm
Depth: 51.5cm

Website keywords


Object history note

This object is one of a pair. The design is in the Graeco- Egyptian neo classical style. It is an anglicized version of a classical Greek klismos chair characterised by tapering, outward curving legs and an inwardly curving top rail.

On acquisition in 1993 it was suggested by the dealer that the chair was painted in the manner of George Smith. Smith published Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in 1808. His designs borrowed ideas from Thomas Hope's Hints in Household Taste published in 1807. Beard and Goodison state that these publications helped to popularise the use of animal motifs and monopodia supports in furniture design. According to Steven Parissen, George Smith's book simplified Hope's designs making them more palatable to the average householder and within the capabilities of the average cabinet maker.


Adam Bowett, independent furniture historian, examined this object on 2nd March 2009.

He described the object as a green painted and gilt elbow chair dating from c.1810. It is one of a pair. The chair has a tableted top rail painted with a key pattern and a classical beast in a gilt tablet in the centre. It has a curved x- shaped splat and a horizontal mid-rail between scrolled arms with carved and gilt paw supports. The chair has a cane seat with a bowed front rail raised on sabre legs with small turned feet.

He noted that this chair is in the Greek revival style promoted by Thomas Hope and others after 1800. The pure classical form suggests a relatively early date, but such chairs were probably still made in the 1830s.

He analysed the construction of this chair in detail. The top rail is jointed to the rear posts with a sliding dove-tail. The mid-rail is tenoned into the posts and the splats are tenoned into the top rail and mid rail. The tops of the arms are tenoned into the front face of the uprights and either doweled or tenoned into the gilt arm supports. The seat rails are tenoned into the legs. The joints are pinned with two pins only at the front of the forelegs. The extended tops of the foreleg are turned and either doweled or tenoned into the paws. The feet are probably doweled into the bottom of the legs. The chair is marked on the back rail, JO and also possibly FH.

The present finish on the chair appears to be relatively modern. However there are indications in areas of wear and on the underside of the seat rails that the finish was black with gold detailing. The caning is all modern but has been stained to give an impression of age.

There is a brake to the top of the left arm which has been repaired. The top rail has also been removed and re-fixed. The left arm has a break which has been repaired through the scroll terminal. The pins to the front legs are repairs and are not-original. It appears that the joints of the front rail to the tops of the legs have been repaired and in order to do this the entire chair would need to be disassembled. Both forelegs have small indentations on the feet which appear to be marks of lathe centres used for turning the leg extensions. The ball feet may be original.

It appears that the joints to both faces of the front legs have been renewed.

The upholstered squab is modern and was made by Albert E.Chapman Ltd in 1993.

In conclusion he noted that this is object was originally a stylish and good quality chair, but the surface decoration has been entirely renewed.

A full transcript of notes from this examination is available on the object's history file and as a digital asset.


Label text, Geffrye Museum, date unknown:
Armchair, painted and gilded beech, with caned seat and scroll arms ending in carved and gilded claws, c1815, with modern silk squab cushion.

Label text for the exhibition At Home with the World, Geffrye Museum (20 March 2012- 9 September 2012):

A ‘Greek key’ pattern – lines turning at right angles to one another forming a border – is painted along the top of this classically-influenced chair. It is a pattern that was widely used on Ancient Greek architecture, and is more properly known as a meander – the name comes from the winding river Maeander in Turkey.
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