A superb quality early 20th century George II style mahogany Gainsborough open armchair or library chair of good proportions based on an original design made in the 18th century.
The chair consists of a shaped and carved top rail with a carved central rocaille (shell style) decoration with carved scrolling acanthus to either side leading down to carved uprights and drop-in upholstered padded back.
The finely carved arms consist of S-shaped dolphin scaled bodies rising from a water spout with foliate fins and acanthus carved tail with the superbly carved dolphin head forming the arm.
This leads down to the carved and moulded seat rails with drop-in padded seat leading down to a profusely carved apron to the front with carved central rocaille and foliate decoration flowing into the front cabriole legs, these being profusely carved with foliate and rocaille decoration leading down to a scaled body terminating with a dolphin head.
The shaped and carved side rails lead down to the cabriole legs to the back with carved foliate and rocaille decoration to the top and terminating with a pointed toe.
The chair being upholstered in a tapestry style fabric at present with slight wear on the front seat edge – however this can easily be changed either once purchased or please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this further – this being an easy task for an upholsterer due to the drop-in seat and back.
This chair is based on an original design made around 1750, examples of this design of chair can be found in The Gerstenfeld Collection (pair armchairs) sold by Christies, The Lady Lever Art Gallery (one armchair) purchased by Moss Harris June 1915 and later the same month sold to Lever for a considerably higher sum and also the V&A (stool and armchair).
The original chairs are documented in the book ‘Masterpieces of English Furniture – The Gerstenfeld Collection’ which is a Christie’s book, these chairs being described as a ‘strikingly sculptural pair of George II library armchairs, part of a larger suite of which six armchairs and a stool are now known. They are the collector’s dream for one thing and one thing only – the use of the dolphin head as a decoration. Dated around 1750, these armchairs are superbly and richly carved in mahogany. Notice the quite beautiful arms, outstandingly carved with dolphin heads with scaled S-shaped supports to the tail…certainly the work of a great chair maker – carved with acanthus, C-scrolls and scaling on the front legs which terminate with dolphin heads. These chairs are very important examples…’
Although this chair dates from the early 20th century it has been finely crafted and carved to replicate the original model.
This chair is in excellent original condition, is of stable construction and can go straight into a home.
Reference: ‘Masterpieces of English Furniture – The Gerstenfeld
Collection’ – Christie’s
Pages 56-60 and 214
‘The Upholstered Furniture in The Lady Lever Art
Gallery Volume 1’ by Lucy Wood
Illustrated on the front cover and pages 532-541
Please note: we also have a pair of this style of chair on our listings/website – please contact me if you need any further information.
Height: 41” / 104cm
Width: 31.5” / 80cm
Depth: 29” / 73.5cm
Seat height: 18.5” / 47cm