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image XF106
Day bed, XF106, English, probably by John Robins (1776-1828), 1818, mahogany frame, leather upholstery, brass castors, in situ, ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly

Day bed, English, probably by John Robins (1776-1828), 1818, mahogany frame, leather upholstery, brass castors

Height (overall): 47 cm
Height (to seat): 35.5cm
Width (including scroll end): 169 cm
Depth: 55cm

Museum number: XF106

Curatorial note

In the style of a Grecian couch, with squat baluster legs on brass castors and add-on plain scrolled end; heavily chamfered on the underside of the side seat rails in a wide curve and with an inset panel on each side; upholstered in wine red coloured leather, buttoned; separate matching rectangular leather cushion, buttoned; the curved cushion now associated with one of the gout stools (XF263 and XF264) belongs to this couch and is shaped to fit the foot-rest.

This couch seems likely to have been made by John Robins, although it does not have the trademark turned legs of most of the pieces he designed for Soane. It must be the ‘5ft 6 Mahogany Grecian Couch with scrole End & seat French stuffed covered with satin Hair cloth welted & strong turned legs on brass socket castors £10’ for which Robins invoiced Soane on 9 April 1818. In 1817 Robins had supplied a ‘A 4ft Mahogany Couch with scrole [sic] end stuffed in fine brown Linen bordered Hair Squab & feather pillow covered with satin Hair Cloth welted & tufted, turned legs on brass socket castors £11.11.1 This earlier piece is rather smaller and is no longer in the collection.

XF106 is currently displayed in the south-east corner of the Library, as shown in the final view of the room from Soane’s life-time. In 1822 it is shown on the west side of the Library. In Britton and Pugin’s Public Buildings of London, plate I, published in November 1823, shows it in the Breakfast Room. In 1825 it is shown to the right of the Dining Room fireplace, projecting out into the room.2 In these views it appears to be upholstered in black, probably leather to match the trellis-back chairs (XF178 etc.), but in the 1837 furniture inventory is described as ‘covered with crimson morocco leather’. It may have been re-upholstered in around 1827 to match the two new ‘Easy chairs’ (XF265 and XF266), with which it is upholstered en suite today. The current leather covering dates from just after the Second World War when it had to be re-covered following damage by rats whilst evacuated.3

Peter Thornton considered that this couch originally had a scrolled back-rest as well as the surviving foot-rest (the couch shown in the Britton view of the Breakfast Room, has a scrolled foot-rest), but only one rest is mentioned in Robins’s bill. The scrolled end is an addition, and in plate IV in the 1835 Description the couch seems to be shown with neither back nor foot-rest; a scroll end is, however, shown in the views of the 1820s.

1 SM Archive XVI.A.4.2 op. cit. note 22, 11 October 1817.
2 Although it was supplied in 1817 it does not appear in the view of the Library and Dining Room of 1822 so must have been elsewhere in the house at that date, perhaps upstairs on the Chamber Floor.
3 SM Archive ‘Annual Register of Repairs to Fabric and contents 1945-‘, records the ‘repair’ of this couch in 1952 by ‘Chas. H. Bowett Ltd, using 6 maroon morocco skins (£26.12.6)’.


Literature

P. Thornton, ‘Soane and Furniture,’ (unpublished typescript) produced for a talk at the FHS Symposium 1985


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk