Eventually we will be able to have guests at home again. They will need to sit somewhere while you demonstrate your cooking (or UberEats) skills finely honed during lockdown, and these are very grand seats indeed. Ravishingly carved with classical scrolls and anthemion flowers, and with reeded legs, the chairs are luxurious Rosewood*, and by the famous firm of Gillows of Lancaster. Late Regency, George IVth in period. The airy, durable caned seats are suitable for Summer, and in cooler months cushions can be fixed in place by tapes passing through the slots seen on the side rails fo the seats. We have the chair cushions, in pale blue, without straps. The caning, much of it new, is "hole by hole" which often lasts several hundred years, unlike the 10 minutes you get with the modern sheet cane that is held to the chairs seat by a cane rod in a groove. Erk!
We know the chairs are by Gillows because of the four slots in the seat border, which were to allow tapes to secure the separate cushions. No other firm used these. So they are proof of Gillows' manufacture. There are parallels with Thomas Chippendale and his main competitors the Linnell brothers. Chippendale chairs are identifiable by the notches cut in the seat rails to allow a support within the wooden crates, during transport. Linnell chairs are “signed” by the globe and acanthus arm terminal unique to that firm.
Entertainingly, when I started antique dealing, in the mid-70s, there was not a single piece of Thomas Chippendale furniture definitively identified. The best we could do was point to the Chinoiserie bed in the V&A as probably by Chippendale. Now through tracking receipts and the abovementioned seat rail notches, something like 4000 pieces of Thomas Chippendale furniture (including coffins) has been positively identified. Ironically, we now know the V&A bed is by the Linnells.
If you have access to the two volumes on Gillows by Susan E. Stuart there are pictures and references to chairs vaguely in the “Kennedy”pattern on pages 219 to 223 in Volume 1, and 244 in Volume 2. There is a somewhat indifferent photograph of the four tape slots on page 223 of Vol 1.
*Note Bene. You will need 3 certificates to move these from one country to any another. (CITES)
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