Description: England, circa 1765
Each with a pagoda roof top-rail above pierced paling backs with drop-in seats on square chamfered legs terminating in a geometric carved foot, comprising two armchairs and nine singles, with one single chair of recent manufacture.
There are no existing invoices to conclusively prove that these chairs were supplied by Chippendale, but his involvement with the furnishing of the two other major English country houses that have identical sets of chairs of this pattern allow for a positive attribution (see below). Furthermore, the single armchair pattern, with plain central lozenged compartment, relates to one of Thomas Chippendale’s 1750s ‘Chinese Chair’ patterns, which he hoped would ‘improve that Taste, or Manner of work, it never having yet arrived to any Perfection’ (T. Chippendale The Gentleman and Cabinet-Makers Director, 1754 (pl. 24)).
Location of Origin: England
Primary Classification: Decorative Arts and Furniture : Furniture : Seating, Chairs
Expertise: Saltram, Devon: A set of chairs of the same pattern, including four armchairs, are displayed in “The Chinese Chippendale Bedroom” at Saltram, Devon (C. Johnson, Saltram, 2005, pp.35 and 36). One of the single chairs illustrated in Christopher Hussey, "English Country Houses, Mid Georgian", Country Life, 1956, p. 134, pl. 261.
Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire: A set of ten identical chairs formerly at Normanton Hall (now missing) Illustrated in Christopher Gilbert The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale (page 101, fig. 167)
George II’s reign witnessed the proliferation of such railed and pagoda-crested chairs in both the ‘picturesque’ Chinese tea pavilions of the landscaped parks as well as in fashionable bedroom apartments hung in Chinese flowered papers (see W. and J. Halfpenny, Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste, 1751-2).
Provenance: Possibly commissioned by Christopher Johnson (1718-87).
By descent in the Dixon-Johnson family at Aykley Heads County Durham, until 1929.
Frances Johnson (d. 1838), son of Christopher Johnson and Tabitha Dixon inherited Aykley Heads in 1801. Family recollection suggested that the chairs were always at Aykley Heads. They formed part of the furnishings there until the family moved to Middle Ord in 1929.
Sold by the Dixon-Johnson family in 1978.
Exhibited: On loan at Aston Hall, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, 1983-2010