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High-backed chairs, XF287 and XF287, Dutch, unknown maker, c.1700-1710, beech, walnut, with seat upholstered in crimson flowered silk damask and caned backs. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly.
  • image Image 1 for XF286
  • image Image 2 for XF286
  • image Image 3 for XF286
  • image Image 4 for XF286

High-backed chair, Dutch, unknown maker, c.1700-1710

Beech and walnut with silk damask seat upholstery and caned back

Height: 127.5cm
Width: 49cm
Depth: 40cm

Museum number: XF286

Curatorial note

One of a pair with XF287. The cresting pierced and carved with feathers and foliage; the bottom of the seat back with foliage and lattice work decoration filled with small flowers; the uprights carved with drops of flowers and fruit; the two front cabriole legs carved with stylised ribbons and drops of flowers; the back legs of simpler form supported on tall rectangular block feet; the side aprons carved with foliage although the carving is much worn; carved cross stretcher; craftsmens’ marks on both chairs, VX on the stretchers; IIII on the back of one chair and III on the back of the other.

Soane referred to these as Dutch chairs but they need not have been imported from the continent; they could equally have been made by a Dutch maker in England. Neat eighteenth-century construction is visible under the seats which indicates that the chairs were partially re-built at that time. The seats would originally have been caned; they have now been re-upholstered in crimson flowered silk, as described in the 1837 inventory.1

It is not known when Soane acquired the chairs but it seems likely that they were bought some time between 1825 and 1830 especially for this antiquarian setting; they do not appear in the earliest views of the Parlour. It may have been in 1829 when Soane paid William Watson for the sixteenth-century Flemish carved Crucifixion for the adjacent Monk’s Cell and the four salon chairs for the Parlour (XF12, XF15, XF16 and XF38). Watson’s bill, dated December 1829, is for ‘4 Chairs £4.4d / 2 do £6 (probably these two) / Crucifixion £12.’ The total is £22.4s.2 Watson frequently acted as an agent for Soane in addition to being his usual painter and glazier. The incised numbers 111 and 1111 suggest the chairs came from a longer set.

1 The chairs were re-upholstered by Lesley Wilson in 2005 with ‘Arkesden’ silk damask from Richard Humphries; the same fabric was used on the four chairs XF12, XF15, XF16 and XF38.
2 SM Archive XVI.A.4. 2.

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