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  • image XF180

Lightweight chair, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century

Painted beech with rush seat

Height: 83cm
Width: 43.5cm
Depth: 38cm

Museum number: XF180

Curatorial note

One of a pair with XF168. Painted in imitation of bamboo; backs with four horizontal back rails at the top and three further down the back; single narrow stretcher between the front legs and another between the back legs, and two turned stretchers on each side.

These are the only chairs in the collection with rush seats and so must be the surviving two from the set of ‘4 wood chairs with rush bottoms’ listed in the 1837 Furniture and Fittings inventory. It is possible that they, along with the other bamboo chairs (XF19, XF20 and XF84), have not always been painted in imitation of bamboo; the inventory description does not mention such a finish although it does say they are painted. The Inspectress’s Report on Furniture, May 1955 refers to making squab seats for the ‘Breakfast Room chairs which were those hitherto relegated to the bathroom and kitchen’ and adds that these chairs were scraped and repainted in imitation of bamboo in 1951 and that two more chairs of similar type are now receiving similar treatment.1

These chairs, and XF19, XF20 and XF84, could be some of the twelve ‘Bamboo and Japann’d’ chairs supplied by Robins for the drawing rooms in No. 12 in 1807.2 Soane’s own design for a bamboo chair, of 1790, for a client (see XF19, XF20 and XF84) shows the rush seat decorated with black lines.

1 Inspectress’s Report p. 2.
2 SM Archive XVI.A.4 John Robins furnishing account for 1807.

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