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Richard Roberts (active 1714-29)

Side chair 1717

Walnut, needlework | 117.5 x 55.0 x 58.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 1071

Private Dining Room, Hampton Court Palace

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  • Highback chairs of carved walnut. Back shaped and curved, central splat incorporating pierced carved scrolling decoration. Cabriole front legs, carved shoulders and hoof feet. H-shaped stretcher with carved cross bar. Upholstered in old petit-point.

    These two chairs come from a set of ten, which may be the surviving remnants of the eighteen supplied for George I's Dining Room at Hampton Court. They can be associated with the following account for ‘Richard Roberts, Joyner’ [to the Great Wardrobe] from the period Michaelmas 1717-Michaelmas 1718: ‘For 18 Chairs made of the best Walnuttree bended backs finely carved and pollisht and silk lace Seats for his maties [=Majesty’s] Dining Room ... £36.0.0.'

    Although Roberts supplied a great number of chairs during the early years of George I’s reign, when this style was in vogue, this is the only account which incorporates three elements seen here: the ‘curved back, carving, and upholstered seats. The term ‘bended back’ probably refers to the Chinese-inspired form of narrow upright seat back or splat, which curves into the small of the back: such forms of far eastern invention were (confusingly) often referred to as ‘Indian’. Though the chairs have replacement rails, they betray no trace of alternative caned or matted seats.

    The design of the back reflects chair patterns popularised by Daniel Marot, designer at the court of William III, though the use of the cabriole leg is forward looking. The petit point needlework seat covers were probably made in the mid-eighteenth century and may have been applied later when the chair rails were replaced. Three of the chairs are inscribed in pencil on the inside of the rear seat-rail 'E C Gunn' which presumably refers to a restorer or upholsterer.

    Text adapted from The First Georgians; Art and Monarchy 1714 - 1760, London, 2014

    Possibly supplied to George I for his Dining Room at Hampton Court Palace in 1717.

  • Medium and techniques

    Walnut, needlework


    117.5 x 55.0 x 58.0 cm (whole object)

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