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  • image XF95
Wiindow seat, XF95, English, unknown maker, late eighteenth century, mahogany, upholstered in modern horsehair. Shown in situ. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Gareth Gardner.

Window seat, English, unknown maker, late eighteenth century

Mahogany, upholstered in modern horsehair

Height: 70cm
Height (to seat): 41cm
Width: 114cm
Depth: 43cm

Museum number: XF95

Curatorial note

With scrolled arm rests; the apron fluted with paterae in the centre and above the legs; the side aprons undecorated; slender fluted baluster front legs; the back legs plain.

This is the only surviving one of the three such settees which may be listed in the Furniture and Fittings inventory (two ‘mahogany settees covered with horsehair’ are listed in the Morning Room). In the 1825 view of the Bath Room two such settees are shown, upholstered as the inventory describes in black horsehair. By the time the inventory was drawn up there was only one in the room and it is described as ‘1 mahogany settee, stuffed seat and ends, covered with horse hair’ – a description more like this settee than the pair in the Morning Room entry which are not described as having stuffed ends.

A drawing of c.1824 and an engraved view based on it published in John Britton’s Union in 1827 show a settee very similar to this in the Monk’s Parlour – perhaps some confirmation that there were once three of them as the 1837 inventory indicates (in the 1820s two were in the Dressing Room or Bath Room and one in the Monk’s Parlour). The two images show the settee with a seat that is clearly buttoned through. Summerson’s card index noted that this settee had been ‘previously in Monk’s Parlour’ but no such settee is listed there at the time of Soane’s death and he may have noted this on the basis of the Britton view.

Photographs taken in the 1920s show this settee upholstered in leather, buttoned; Sir John Summerson’s card index of furniture, made in the 1950s, records that it was covered in ‘red leather (much torn)’. The settee was repaired by Harrod’s in 1971 and re-upholstered in yellow brocade by Dorothy Stroud (the Museum’s Inspectress) in March 1972. Lesley Wilson examined the settee in 2002 and felt that the arms had lost what would have been originally a tauter profile. In 2015 it was re-upholstered in black horsehair as per the original description and to the original profile. Two copies were made by The Odd Chair Company and placed in The restored Morning Room.

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