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image XF87
Armchair or ‘easy chair’, XF87, English, unknown maker, c.1820-30, mahogany, horsehair, brass, ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly

Armchair or ‘easy chair’, English, unknown maker, c.1820-30

Mahogany upholstered in horsehair; brass close nails and castors

Height: 109.2cm
Width (frame): 63cm
Depth (seat rail): 66.5cm

Museum number: XF87

Curatorial note

With serpentine back and scroll arms; the short sabre back legs and straight tapering turned front legs on brass castors; arm pads, seat and back upholstered in black horsehair with decorative brass close nails around the edges.1

Immediately following the table the Furniture and Fittings inventory describes this ‘Mahogany high backed chair with Arms, stuffed cushion & covered with crimson Morocco’, presumably in the centre of the room, next to the table.2 As in the ground floor Library, with its two easy chairs (XF265 and XF267), here Soane could sit comfortably rather than formally. This seems to be the chair in which Soane is seated in his portrait by William Owen, 1805 (P228) in which the original upholstery is shown.

In 1992 a similar pair of chairs for sale in the Pimlico Road were identified as being c.1820 and made by the Irish firm of MacWilliams and Gibson to a Gillows design.3

Immediately following this chair the Furniture and Fittings inventory lists ‘4 Mahogany chairs, seats covered with crimson Morrocco’. These were four of the chairs from the set XF117 etc. of which the rest were in the Dining Room. They were placed against the east and west walls of the Breakfast Room.

1 SM object file records that this chair was re-covered in 1956; in 1991 it was repaired again by Peter Binnington and re-upholstered by Lesley Wilson, for Peter Thornton; the work included partial rebuilding of the stuffing rails of the arms, seat and lower back to support the upholstery; the close nails were initially found to be ‘mostly high domed brass with a high copper content’ and ‘there were a few modern replacements’ but a later conclusion was that no originals survived and Lesley Wilson replaced them all with ones of a slightly larger diameter and with a slightly higher dome than modern nails.
2 The chair is confirmed as this one by a view of the Breakfast Room published in the London Illustrated News, 25 June 1864, which shows it still in the room, to the right of the fireplace.
3 SM object file; information from Peter Binnington 1992.


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