Piece Number FPF023
A turned and carved silvered beech upholstered single chair
The Frederick Parker Chair Collection: London Metropolitan University
Queen Anne, c. 1710
1914 from Millar (probably Cecil Millar) for £25
The form of this chair and its silver leaf finish are in the tradition of silver furniture made during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when both silver leaf and silver furniture was made for the Royal Court and the aristocracy. (Beard, Geoffrey, Upholsterers and Interior Furnishings in England 1530-1840, Yale, 1997, pp. 124-125). The pillar leg, the form of which even occurs on watch pillars at the time, was a fashionable style for important furniture and was used for cabinet stands and side tables, as well as for chairs. Furniture historians would previously have dated chairs of this style to 1685-1700, but recent researches in the Royal Household Accounts have changed this conception. (Bowett, Adam, English Furniture, Antique Collectors Club, 2002) If it is reasonable to assume that the Royal Household was at the forefront of fashion, since there is no mention of ‘spreading back feet’, which this chair has, in the Accounts prior to 1708, it now appears that we are looking at a Queen Anne chair. This feature of ‘spreading back feet’, raked for stability, became almost a signature of the English chair and it is almost certain that this example is English, although the circular ends to the H-form stretchers would previously have been considered evidence of Continental origin. However, recent research has shown that this feature also appears on some chairs known to have been made in England.
The tall, sloping back would have given this chair a very grand appearance as part of a large set, lined up along the walls of a splendid room of entertainment. The large area of upholstery would also have played an important part, both in appearance and cost. The present worn velvet covering dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, but the webbing and base cloth appears to be original. The absence of other tack holes would also suggest that the chair originally had loose covers, which would allow them to be easily changed according to the season. A similar chair, probably with its original covering, is illustrated in the Dictionary of English Furniture (Edwards, Ralph, Dictionary of English Furniture, Published 1954, Vol. I, p. 253, fig 81) and another, with the same unusual concave moulded legs, is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, (Accession Number W71 – 1911) accessioned at about the same time as the Frederick Parker chair.
The beech frame of this chair is in sound and undamaged state and, although the silver leaf finish is in poor and flaky condition probably due to gesso rot, caused by damp, it remains a fine and important chair and very rare to have survived in its present condition.
Frederick Parker Foundation Number fpf023
Other Associated Numbers 3674, 4397
Measurements 21 x 52 x 26 inches
Rights Frederick Parker Foundation