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The Evolution Of The Chair

( Originally Published 1912 )



IN order to deal exhaustively with the evolution of the chair from its earliest forms to the latest developments in sumptuous upholstery, it would be necessary to make an extended survey of furniture, dating back to early classic days. To enumerate the manifold varieties belonging to various countries and to trace the gradual progress in form, which kept pace with the advance in civilization, would be of sufficient interest to occupy a whole volume. Man, as a sitting or lounging animal, has grown to require more elaborate forms of chair, or settee, or sofa, and the modern tendency has been towards comfort and luxury.

As regards English furniture the intense contrast between the days of Elizabeth and those of Victoria is at once noticeable. According to Lord Macaulay in his comparison between the manners of his day and those of the past, the furniture of a middle-class dwelling-house of the nineteenth century was equal to that of a rich merchant in the time of Elizabeth. In general this may be true, though not as regards the spacious structure and the massive grandeur of the Tudor house. In many details the differences are most noteworthy. The wide gulf dividing the modern world from the days of the Armada may be realized by reflecting on the astounding fact that Queen Elizabeth possessed at one time the only pair of silk stockings in the realm, which were presented to her by Mistress Montague, "which pleased her so well that she would never wear any cloth hose afterwards."

The sturdy character of the yeomen of the days of the Tudors is exhibited in their furniture. The illustrations of this chapter in regard to the chair and its structural development indicate the slowly acquired tastes, running some decades behind the fashionable furniture, strong with foreign influences, which had come into more or less general use. "England no longer sent her fleeces to be woven in Flanders and to be dyed in Florence. The spinning of yarn, the weaving, fulling, and dyeing of cloth, was spreading rapidly from the towns to the countryside. The worsted trade, of which Norwich was the centre, extended over the whole of the Eastern Counties. Farmers' wives everywhere began to spin their wool from their own sheep's backs into a coarse home-spun."

The rough and wattled farmhouses were being replaced by dwellings of brick and stone. The disuse of salt fish and the greater consumption of meat marked the improvement which was taking place among the country folk. The wooden trenchers in the farmhouses were supplanted by pewter, and there were yeomen who could boast of their silver. Carpets in richer dwelling-houses superseded the wretched flooring of rushes. Even pillows, now in common use, were articles of luxury in the sixteenth century. The farmer and the trader deemed them only fit "for women in child-bed." The chimney-corner came into being in Elizabethan days with the general use of chimneys. The mediaeval fortress had given place to the grandeur of the Elizabethan hall in the houses of the wealthy merchants. The rise of the middle classes brought in its wake a corresponding advance of the yeomen and their depend-ants. Visions of the New World "threw a haze of prodigality and profusion over the imagination of the meanest seaman."

Of farmhouse types of chair that can authoritatively be attributed to Tudor days there are few; but the succeeding age of the Stuarts is rich with examples of undoubted authenticity. Many of them are dated, and they all bear a strong family resemblance to each other, owing to the narrow range of motif's in the carved panels. There is a fixed insularity in these early examples, and the same traditional patterns in scrollwork or in conventional lozenge design retained their hold for many generations. The oak arm-chair of a farmhouse kitchen made in the days of Charles I was still followed in close detail in the days of George III, as dated examples testify, and it would puzzle an expert, without the date to guide him, to say whether the piece was eighteenth or seventeenth century work. It may be added that as a general rule there is a marked leaning towards generosity in imparting age to old furniture. It is now very generally recognized that, like wine, it gains prestige with length of years. It therefore grows in antiquity according to the fancy of the owner or the imagination of the collector.

Among the early forms of chairs falling under the category of farmhouse furniture may be noticed examples of rough and massive build, eminently fit to serve the purpose for which they were designed. Ornament is reduced to a minimum, and they stand as rude monuments to the cabinetmaker's craft in fashioning them and following tradition to suit his client's tastes.

In regard to the sixteenth century there cannot be said to be any type falling under the heading of cottage or farmhouse chairs. We have already illustrated (p. 25) an early form of Elizabethan days, but such examples are rare. Practically speaking, cottagers had only stools in common use. It was not until about 165o that a simplified form of the well-known variety of the chairs of the Jacobean oak period came into general use.

The seventeenth century offers a wide field of selection, and many examples exist which undoubtedly were in use in farmhouses at that period. The arm-chair illustrated on page 125, with the initials " W.I.A." was evidently made for the farmhouse. It is notable for a complete absence of ornamental carving except a thinly scratched lozenge. In date this is from 1650 to 1700, and if made for a wealthier person at that date it would be richly carved. It is a superior farmhouse chair.

Cushions had no important place in the effects of the farmhouse in early days, although ropes were sometimes used to support cushions. But as a general rule the wooden seats show tangible signs of rough usage of centuries, and the stretcher has its worn surface marked by generations of owners who found it protective against the cold flagged or rush-strewn floor and the draughts in days prior to carpets and rugs.

In making a study of the evolution of the chair the stretcher is an important factor. For obvious reasons, as explained above, no early chairs were made without the stretcher across the front, a good sound serviceable piece of British oak to stand rough wear and tear. Gradually, keeping time with the march of comfort, the front stretcher begins to leave its old position near the floor, and in later examples it is half-way up the front legs. It still had a use, and a very important one : it added considerable strength and solidity to the chair, and is nearly always found in chairs intended for personal use. Later it took another form, as the illustrated specimens in this chapter show: it united the two side stretchers, and crossed the chair underneath in the centre at right-angles to the side stretchers. Its purpose in adding stability to this class of furniture was evidently never lost sight of.

At first strictly utilitarian, the stretcher was a solid foot-rest; later, while partly utilitarian in adding to the strength, it became suitable for ornamentation. Although in the class of furniture here under review such ornament never took an elaborate form, there are examples slightly differing in character from chairs intended for the use of the wealthier classes, and these are evidently a local effort to keep in touch with prevailing taste.

Finely turned stretchers, such as are found in gate tables, are a feature of a certain class of local chairs, such as that illustrated on page 129. This kind of chair with-out arms is rather more decorated and conforms more to the styles of furniture made for higher spheres than the farmhouse. This chair, with its light open back and ornate decoration, is a Yorkshire type, and the ball turning in the stretcher shows the transition period to Charles II. Its date is about 166o.

Another point in connexion with the ordered progress of the chair-maker is the gradual development of the back of the chair. At first it was straight upright, and no attempt was made to impart an angle to rest the back of the sitter.

Types such as the arm-chair with square panel and the upright settle with the five panels illustrated on page 131 indicate this feature of discomfort. The next stage is a slight inclination in the back, still possessing a flat panel. This angle, while not conforming to modern notions of ease, was an attempt to offer greater comfort than before. This style, in a hundred forms, with the minimum of inclination in the back, continued for a very considerable period. It is found in the nearly straight-backed chairs of Derbyshire and Yorkshire origin, with the turned stretchers, and in later days it actually became almost upright in the series of chairs following the later Stuart types with cane back and cane seat, notable for their tall narrow backs with a resemblance to the prie-dieu chair of continental usage.

The settle illustrated is a plainer variety of the settle made for use by fashionable folk with delicately panelled back. Very often, in cottage furniture, chests and other pieces are broken up to make into smaller furniture or to be incorporated into furniture of a later design. Often it is found that the underframing of an old gate table made in the seventeenth or eighteenth century is from an earlier chest. In the present instance it seems probable that the back panels of the settle, like those under the seat, have been made from an older chest, which bears the inscribed initials, still visible, "I.E." In date this settle is about 1675.

Illustrated on page 135 is a remarkable chair having the initials "A.S.C.B." and the date 1777 carved on it. It is a striking instance of the adherence to old time-honoured form by the local cabinet-maker, with touches that, even though the date were not present, would tell their own story. This dull wood proclaims a message in accents no less sure than the sturdy yeoman's to Lady Clara Vere de Vere, and as a chair in date anno Domini 1777 may afford to "smile at the claims of long descent" of more pretentious and fashionable furniture. It is like a rich vein of dialect running in some old country song ripe with phrase of Saxon days. It seems incredible that this survival from early Jacobean days should have been put together by a village craftsman true to convention and exact in seat and arms and stretcher. But it was not done unthinkingly. Here is a chair, astounding to note, made when Sheraton was creating his new styles to supplant Chippendale, and when Hepplewhite stood between the two masters as a via media. And the back of this village chair has two distinct features translated from Hepplewhite's school—the wheatear crest and the panel with its broken corner !

The rapid growth of the finer specimens of furniture made in walnut brought a new note into the farmhouse variety. The elegance and grace of the newer styles were at once evident. In the same manner as the grandiose splendour of Elizabethan woodcarving was succeeded by a less massive style in oak, degenerating into a rude simplicity in farmhouse examples, so in turn Jacobean lost favour. Walnut lent itself to more intricate turning, and lightness and greater delicacy claimed the popular favour of fashionable folk. The cane seat and the cane back at once indicate this new taste. The use of cushions became general and the sunk seat for the squab cushion is a feature in the later years of the seventeenth century.

Oak still remained the favourite wood of the country craftsman, in spite of its more refractory qualities. But when the walnut styles became so firmly established that clients demanded furniture in this fashion, elm and beech and yew were found pliable enough to conform to the more slender touches and the finer turning considered desirable.

Walnut was in its turn supplanted by mahogany, and it will be shown later how farmhouse furniture followed the dictates of fashion in days when the outburst of splendid design by Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton, with a crowd of lesser known men, spread new principles in the art of furniture-making far and wide and brought country furniture another stage forward in its evolution.

Farmhouse furniture slowly assimilated the technique and design of the walnut age. The love for the native oak was so pronounced that country makers did not desert this wood and essayed to produce effects by its employment that were exceedingly difficult and oftentimes unsuccessful. The chair illustrated on page 139 shows this transition style, about the year 1680, struggling with technical difficulties and affording a fine series of points in the evolution of design.

Farmhouse furniture rarely, if ever, had cane-work in the back or in the seat. But the craftsman, while appreciating the delicacy of the cane back in adding lightness to the chair, circumvented his inability to work in cane by substituting thin vertical splats to give the necessary effect. The chair illustrated shows the quaint compromise made between the technique of oak and the technique of walnut, and the attempt to reproduce the walnut designs.

The arm-chair exhibits strong relationship with the older Jacobean chair in its turned legs and uprights, but these have assumed a more slender proportion. The front stretcher is in the newer manner. The sunk seat is in-tended to receive a cushion. There should be no difficulty for the amateur correctly to assign a date to such a piece. The process of reasoning would be somewhat as follows:—The lower half of the chair is Jacobean, but the front stretcher suggests the Charles II period, borne out by the open back, which removes it from the Cromwellian period, and the details of the top rail with its curved top indicate that the country maker had seen the tall straight-back chairs of the William and Mary period with the cane-work panel.

It will be seen that this chair evades the difficulties of the light cane-back by the substitution of thin rails, and the next stage of walnut design with fiddle-shaped splat offered equal problems to the makers of cottage furniture. Sometimes they eliminated the splat altogether, while adopting other points of design found in chairs with the Queen Anne splat of 1710. In every case the fondness for old established styles is exhibited in the fact that the country cabinetmaker clings doggedly to these and appears too conservative or too timid to break wholly away from tradition. In consequence, his work, with patches of newer design welded on to the old, is quaintly incongruous. There is thus an absence of "thinking out" the design as a whole. The minor maker thought out the parts as he went along. Some of his results are extra-ordinary in their characteristics : they resemble those freaks of fashion termed "harlequin" tea services, where the cups are of one pattern and saucers of another. Bearing in mind those unfailing proclivities of the maker of cottage and farmhouse furniture, the collector should not find it difficult to recognize the country hand at once. Now and again one is struck by the extraordinary ingenuity of some of the work, or one is charmed with the faithfulness with which designs have been translated from the golden bowl to the silver, or, to be literal, from walnut and mahogany to oak, elm or beech. But one is never amazed at the delicacy of proportion, the balanced symmetry, or the fertility of invention—these attributes belong to cabinet-makers on a higher plane.

The fiddle-shaped splat of 1710 marks a turning-point in the construction of the chair.

The walnut chairs with caned backs of the time of James II and the early days of William III were carved richly, and sometimes there was a splat dividing the caning at the back, which later, also in caned-back examples, is curved and plain. The general tendency in the reigns of William and Mary, especially towards the close of the period, was one of economy, and elaborate carving began to disappear.

The Queen Anne smooth splat of fiddle form rapidly became popular. This Anglo-Dutch style became acclimatized here, and is characteristic of the homely examples of the Queen Anne period. In walnut it was comparatively easy to carry out carving. In oak such elaboration was well-nigh impossible. It was therefore natural that in the farmhouse examples the plain Dutch splat would readily find favour as more easily executed. By the time that the fiddle splat had become popular the stretcher joining the cabriole legs commenced to disappear.

The splat plays an important part as indicating sharp variations in design—walnut with open carving, intricate and floriated; walnut with the plain fiddle splat, with its corresponding minor form in oak; mahogany, with the advent of Chippendale, with the splat again open, carved with graceful ribbon-work.

The upholstered chair, shown on page 143, with its tall back with curved splat and its cabriole legs, marks the transition between William and Mary and Queen Anne. The top rail indicates by its clumsy joinery the touches of the immature country cabinet-maker. It is an attempt to approach a fine model with insufficiency of skill on the part of the maker. The use of the cabriole leg either in chairs or dressers in homely furniture has always proved a stumbling-block to the minor craftsman. The delicacy of balance required in order to preserve the harmony of the whole has proved too subtle a problem for him to handle, and to the practised eye these farm-house pieces at once proclaim their origin.

The adjacent arm-chair is of the Queen Anne style, with a shaped front that is very rarely found in such pieces. The maker here has not been very successful in catching the bold lines of his original. There is a sense of something lacking in the curves of the back. The touches of his own that he has added in the arms, reverting to an earlier Jacobean type, reveal the unpractised hand.

A word in passing may be said in regard to the unique character of furniture of the types we may call country Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. It is obvious that factory-made furniture turned out by the hundred pieces can offer nothing personal, whatever its merits or demerits of design or workmanship. It is this personal note, the pride of a craftsman in his creation, that appeals to the collector, whether it be of Persian rugs or of old brass candlesticks. It is absent in art produced in a wholesale manner. Blunderingly as the village craftsmen went to work, they often stumbled into great things, and they always produced original results.

Prior to the publication of the design-books of the great eighteenth-century masters of cabinet-making the furniture of certain localities began to assume a character of its own, the result of long tradition, and designs such as the dragon found in Welsh carving became established. The term "unique" is peculiarly appropriate to furniture of this calibre, for rarely are two pieces found to be exactly alike. Not only did different makers add novel features, but the same craftsman apparently did not repeat him-self.

The permutations of form governing furniture are illimitable, associated as they are with so many details of construction. To take the chair—the leg, its shape, and the design of its turning; the style and character of the work on the. stretcher; the form of the seat; the decoration and formation of the front; the back, its length, and the variety of splats and panels; and the top rail with its variations—these are only the salient features in which differences appear. Such modifications of design and piquant touches of personal character appeal to the collector who loves the foibles and fanciful moods of the native craftsman, be he ever so humble.

Chippendale published his "Director" in 1754, and it became a working guide to all ambitious craftsmen. Ince and Mayhew, cabinet-makers of Broad Street, Golden Square, had issued "Household Furniture" in 1748, and Hepplewhite & Co. had followed later with the "Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide" in 1788, where the delicacies of ornament were related to the more chaste classic models, and in 1794 came Sheraton with his "Drawing Book," rich with subtle suggestiveness. A rough generalization shows the Chippendale school holding sway from 1730 to 1780, the Hepplewhite school from 1775 to 1795, and the Sheraton school from 1790 to 1805: and behind all, the strong influence of the Brothers Adam in their classic revival. What had previously been tradition came very speedily into line with current modes. Fashion, as we have shown, had a slow and impermanent effect upon village ideals. But the publication of these great illustrated volumes, with working drawings, undoubtedly had a wide-reaching influence. The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw an intense outburst of interest in the arts of interior decoration. A great amount of finely designed and beautifully executed furniture belongs to those days, and the echo of the splendid achievements in mahogany and in satinwood is seen in the farmhouse and cottage furniture, which came singularly close upon the heels of fashion.

Chippendale furniture in oak, elm, or beech is being largely collected. We illustrate a sufficient number of types to show that this class of design known as "Cottage Chippendale," has peculiar charms of its own. The arm-chair illustrated on page 147 is in elm, and is in the style Chippendale employed in his rich mahogany creations in 1760. The fine interlaced carving of the back is graceful and well proportioned. The adjacent chair, in elm, still follows the Chippendale style. The seat is rush, and the maker has recognized his own limitations and avoided in the splat the too intricate work of more sumptuous models. He has arrived at a very finely balanced result. The heart cut out of the splat is frequently found in cottage examples, suggesting that some of the more ornate examples may have been made as wedding presents for young couples just setting up housekeeping, or possibly the village cabinet-maker himself had thoughts in that direction, and such work was destined to equip his own home. The arm-chair on page 149, with its dipped seat, is in oak, and is an instance of the adaptation of the Sheraton style in the provinces.

Another page of chairs in oak (p. 151) shows the influences at work in moulding the character of the styles of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century farm-house furniture. The two chairs at the top are typically Hepplewhite in character. The Prince of Wales's feathers, so often associated with Hepplewhite's own work, are embodied in the splat of one.

In the lower group, the right-hand chair is of the Chippendale type. The other two chairs have features of three styles—the Queen Anne, the Chippendale, and the Sheraton. It is this piquancy and incongruous combination of styles adjacent to each other in point of time, but having little other relationship, which make the provincialisms of the cabinetmaker of exceptional interest.

At times more ambitious attempts were made in oak, following the lines of the Chippendale style in mahogany. These have pronounced features always recognizable as belonging to the farmhouse variety of furniture. A reference to the "Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Directory," published by Thomas Chippendale in 1754, would show that such designs when adopted by the local maker are very far removed from the series of delicate fretwork designs illustrated by Chippendale in his volume. It is true that the old designer of St. Martin's Lane sent forth his work with the sub-title stating that it was "calculated to improve and refine the present Taste, and suited to the Fancy and Circumstances of Persons in all Degrees of Life." The great master cabinet-maker, in scattering his designs far and wide, evidently had in mind the formation of a new style. He builded better than he knew. The importance of his book of designs cannot be overrated. It was subscribed for in Yorkshire, in Devon, in Westmorland, and in Ireland, and immediately minor men looked upon these delightful inventions and began to follow to the best of their ability the ideals set forth by Chippendale the dreamer.

That he was an idealist in this book of designs is naively explained in his Preface : "I frankly confess that in the executing many of the drawings my pencil has but faintly copied out those images that my fancy suggested, and had they not been published till I could have pronounced them perfect, perhaps they had never seen the light." But Chippendale was also a practical cabinet-maker as well as a designer. He had a lingering doubt that after all, perhaps, the country cabinet-maker and those who bought the book for use might not be able to carry out his designs. Evidently this had struck others too. Perhaps he was accused of fobbing-off in a design-book mere fanciful work that was too far above the plane of ordinary cabinet-work. He meets this objection with a declaration, so to speak, upon honour, with which he winds up his Preface, which is a pretty piece of eighteenth-century advertising:

" Upon the whole, I have given no design but what may be executed with advantage by the hands of a skilful workman, though some of the profession have been diligent enough to represent them (especially those after the Gothic and Chinese manner) as so many specious drawings, impossible to be worked off by any mechanic whatsoever. I will not scruple to attribute this to malice, ignorance, and inability, and I am confident I can convince all noblemen, gentlemen, or others, who will honour me with their commands, that every design in the book can be improved, both as to beauty and enrichment, in the execution of it, by—Their Most Obedient Servant, Thomas Chippendale."

Enough has been said to prove that " country Chippendale" is not a misnomer. It is equally true that the Hepplewhite style was disseminated in like fashion in the provinces. It must be remembered that these trade catalogues, as they really were, brought out more or less in rivalry with each other by the great London designers and cabinet-makers, were the only literature the country makers had to indicate town fashions. These volumes therefore served a double purpose in procuring clients for the firm and in stimulating the art of the country designer. That they were in part intended to be educational is shown by the Preface to the " Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide," published by A. Hepplewhite & Co., Cabinet-makers. We quote from the Preface of the third edition, "improved," 1794.

The Preface opens with a lament that owing to "the mutability of all things, but more especially of fashions," foreigners who seek a knowledge of English taste and workmanship may be misled by the "labours of our predecessors in this line of little use."

"The same reason in favour of this work will apply also to many of our own countrymen and artisans, whose distance from the metropolis makes even an imperfect knowledge of its improvements acquired with much trouble and expense."

"In this instance we hope for reward; and though we lay no claim to extraordinary merit in our designs, we flatter ourselves they will be found serviceable to young workmen in general, and occasionally to more experienced ones."

In view, therefore, of the books of design we have enumerated, it is obvious that the country designer had a new field open to him, and now and again he made ample use of his opportunities. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century there was quite an outburst of literature on furniture, much of it forgotten and much of it waiting to be disinterred by patient research; and with the dissemination of these fine designs some of the most perfect examples of country-made furniture began to exhibit touches of skill of the practised hand.

As early as the opening years of the eighteenth century there were upholstered chairs of a somewhat similar type to the so-called "grandfather" chair, with scrolled arms or wings.

From the illustration given on page 157 it will be seen that the type may well have originated from the primitive arm-chair cum bacon-cupboard found with the same wings and curved arms and plain wooden seat in the alehouse or in the ingle nook of the farmhouse. The specimen we illustrate does duty as a bacon-cupboard as well as a chair. Usually such pieces have the cupboard opening at the back, but in this instance the cupboard opens in front.

The ladder-back chair belongs to the northern half of England, and similarly the spindle-back chair is found in the same locality. The Windsor chair, on the other hand, is mainly confined to the southern half of the country. These are points which become noticeable after years of systematized research, and although nowadays these three varieties of chair may still be found, somewhat scattered, their real home and place of origin is as indicated. Another feature of interest is that both ladder-back and spindle-back varieties, with but slight differences, are found on the continent.

It will be observed that this class of chair has a rush seat. This feature it has in common with the spindle-back chair.

The rush-bottom chair covers a wide area. It comes with an air of naivete and rustic simplicity. One recalls the long lines of green rushes by the river-bank and the rush-gatherers in idyllic placidity slowly trimming the banks, disturbing coot and moorhen with their punt, and adding another human touch to the lonely angler. They are pursuing a calling as old as the river itself, and the use of rushes for the floor, for lighting, or for seating furniture, found occupation for generations of men plying curious trades, of which the plaiting of osiers into baskets and the thatching of cottage roofs may be numbered among the decaying industries. Indeed, this latter art and the making of birch and heath brooms may be almost said to be extinct. A good artisan who can thatch in the old artistic style is much sought after. Of course ricks have still to be thatched, but the picturesque skill of masters of this old-world craft is absent, and corrugated iron sheets have found favour in lieu of the old style.

The ladder-back chair is, as its name denotes, decorated with horizontal supports, ladder fashion. These are capable of the most pleasing variation. The perfection of form of this type is seen in the arm-chair illustrated on page 159. The well-balanced proportion of the ladder rails is a test as to the excellence of the design. They are not meaningless ornaments put in place, unthinkingly, to create a new style. The example illustrated shows the quaint survival of the Queen Anne foot. The ladder-back form survived the eighteenth century and lasted down to within fifty years ago, when it became merged into that of the Windsor chair.

The spindle-back chair is of long lineage. As early as the reign of Charles I this type was known. There is still treasured in America the chair of Governor Carver, with simple turning in legs and back, which practically consisted of upright posts rounded and having slight ornament. The back was set with "spindles." The older types of these chairs had thick upright posts, the back and back legs being two posts, and the front legs, continued upward beyond the seat, forming supports for the arms. These posts are often six or seven inches in circumference, and belong to early Jacobean days. The type found its way to America in Puritan days and has continued to be a favourite. Hickory wood was used for American specimens, and considerable attention has been paid to this form of chair and its varieties, the differing heights of the posts and the number of spindles and their character, by American collectors. In England examples are not easily found of early date. The example illustrated (p. 275) is of eighteenth-century days, and is sufficient to indicate the type of chair when it had become of more general use in cottages and farmhouses.

Turned chairs, turned in almost every portion but the rush seat, lend themselves to two styles of treatment. Their upright posts forming the open back can be treated with vertical splats divided by horizontal divisions, or they can, as in the ladder form, receive horizontal splats. The complete simplicity of this attitude towards the back absolved the homely cabinet-maker from dangerous experiments. Avoiding curved backs, he had not to face the intricacies of the nicety of balance in the splat. Altogether it was a very satisfactory solution, and in practice resulted in the production of a wide range of chairs, differing in slight details but well within the range of the local workman's art.

The unassuming simplicity of this class of chair made its appeal to Madox-Brown, who held that simplicity and utility were the two desiderata, united with soundness of construction, for domestic furniture. Veneer was as abhor-rent to him as to all genuine lovers of the artistic. "Let us be honest, let us be genuine in furniture as in aught else," were his words. "If we must needs make our chairs and tables of cheap wood, do not let them masquerade as mahogany or rosewood; let the thing appear that which it is; it will not lack dignity if it be good of its kind and well made." Accordingly he put his theories into practice and designed some furniture. In a chair in the possession of Mr. Harold Rathbone he has employed the rush seat and used spindles to decorate the back, and in another chair in the same collection he has adhered to the horizontal ladder-back style, coupled with the rush seat, with pleasing effect.

Among interesting types of chairs often with lingering traces of the Jacobean style and additional features of splats that may be regarded as standing on the threshold of the Chippendale period, corner chairs stand in a class alone. The illustrations on pages 159 and 163 show some typical examples. The chair with the double tier is an oak adaptation from Chippendale with the retention of the old Jacobean form of support for the arm. These chairs with this added tier are often used as country barber's chairs. The rush-seated corner chair on page 159, probably made in Lancashire, is suggestive of the ladder-back form, and there are indications in its construction that it is subsequent to the Hepplewhite period.

With these notes relative to the evolution of the chair, and with carefully selected illustrations of types likely to be of use to the collector, enough has been said to whet the curiosity of the reader and urge him to study the matter for himself. It requires keen and discriminating judgment to allocate specimens with passing exactitude as to time and place. The taste for the subject must be natural and not acquired. Training alone will give the eye the readiness to detect false touches and modern additions. The search for bargains goes on apace, and those who enjoy stalking their quarry in out-of-the-way places have an exciting quest nowadays for fine pieces. To those having plenty of leisure, with endless patience, and forbearing under disappointment, the search will offer abundant delight, if, to quote Mrs. Battle, they enjoy " the rigour of the game."



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