The advert shown in our photograph reel shows the chair top left, with the collection advertised as ‘A most interesting collection of Lacquer work in Chinese Style’. As the owner of a fine London home during the early reign of Queen Victoria, a person of note would certainly have ‘Druce & Co’ on their list of places to shop for furniture needs. Established in the Marylebone area of London, on the corner of Blandford Street and Baker Street (later to be made so famous as the home of Sherlock Holmes by the legendary British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), in the mid-19th century, on the site of the previously named ‘Baker Street Bazaar’. Thomas Charles Druce collated and displayed fine furniture from skilled makers throughout the globe. His son, Herbert, was an integral part of the business – taking over the running in 1864 when Thomas passed away. With a keen eye for quality the Druce & Co company traded successfully throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the Great War, and into WW2 when, at the end of 1940, German bombers destroyed most of the building and stocks.
The fine art of chinoiserie has been in existence since the 17th century, and it depicts Chinese style designs applied to furniture, ceramics and fabrics. Chinoiserie is wonderfully beautiful, and tends to depict realistic and fictitious animals, insects, people, foliage, structures and various other elaborate Asian designs that can be incorporated into a number of decorating themes. Antique pieces embellished with Asian-style chinoiserie and high-quality japanning are coated with baked-on layers that look very much like modern-day high-gloss enamel. Chinoiserie that has been japanned is coated with many layers of resin-based gloss and baked dry. Much polishing goes into the true technique of japanning, and high-quality pieces will appear to have deep layers of gloss with the sheen of fine marble, but true antique pieces like this will show signs of age and wear.
A very evocative and decorative chair of beautiful sculptural lines by a very good maker.