A rare Charles II walnut, carved armchair

September 18, 2019 2:38 pm Published by

Finely carved throughout with anthacus leaves and flat-petalled flowers. The top and bottom-front stretchers carved with a crown supported by amorini. The partially-caned back supported by barley-twist turnings with crown finials. Re-caned seat, the framework with incised decoration. Scrolled arms and front legs joined by barley-twist stretchers. Original toes. Excellent original colour and patination. English, circa 1675.

This chair is a fine example of its type, displaying many characteristics of the period. It is in excellent condition, and the colour and patination of the walnut is quite exceptional. The repairs to the caning, which has been replaced, is acceptable and only to be expected from the wear and tear of over 300 years of use. It is very difficult to attribute the regionality of the chair with any degree of certainty.

The use of walnut, in conjunction with caning on seats and backs, dates from after the Restoration when Charles II and his courtiers introduced this fashion which originated in France and spread to England from Holland.

The design and decoration of the front stretcher, cresting and back panel frame became more ornate during Charles II’s reign. The arms were of rounded section with a downward curve and the mesh of the caning was reduced over time. The ornament often consisted of a crown supported by amorini (a motive adopted before the Restoration in decorative woodwork) acanthus leaves and flat-petalled flowers. This style was very popular; having originated in France, the fashion spread to Holland and thence to England and the turning is the most reliable guide to nationality.

Great variety is displayed in English chairs of this period with designs being influenced by continental fashions. Scrolled legs were often employed, the supports to the arms forming complementary curves. On fine Carolean chairs, as in this example, the carved ornament is bold.

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This post was written by joecollinson