The Hampton Court Chairs: An Exceptional Survival of George I Marquetry

A Pair of George I Seaweed Marquetry Side Chairs Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A Pair of George I Seaweed Marquetry Side Chairs
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We are delighted to share one of our latest acquisitions that is steeped in history.  This superb pair of George I walnut and seaweed marquetry side chairs is attributed to the Royal chairmakers Thomas or Richard Roberts.  Each chair features an arched upholstered and close-nailed back and seat and stands on shaped cabriole legs with square hoof feet.  The legs and circular panel to the front seat rail are beautifully inlaid with seaweed marquetry decoration.

A Pair of George I Seaweed Marquetry Side Chairs Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A Pair of George I Seaweed Marquetry Side Chairs
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

These chairs were formerly with the antique dealer Charles of London and New York and described as ‘The Hampton Court Chairs.’  They later entered the collection of Marion £. and Leonard A. Cohn before being gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1945.  In 2006, the chairs were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum’s show entitled AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion.

These chairs relate very closely to those supplied by Thomas Roberts to Sir Robert Walpole, later 1st Earl of Orford (d. 1745) for Houghton Hall, Norfolk, with similar shaped cabriole legs and ending in stylised hoof feet.  Two pairs of chairs from Houghton were sold Christie’s London, 8th December 1994, lots 126 and 127.  Thomas and Richard Roberts both held the warrant as ‘joiner to the Royal Household’ for over thirty years, from 1686 until 1729, and supplied furnishings for Whitehall, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, and Windsor Castle.

B1977.14.11731

John Tinney after Joseph Highmore, East Front of Hampton Court
Yale Center for British Art

With their similar central inlaid cartouche to the front seat-rail, a suite of furniture traditionally ascribed to the workshops of John Belchier and supplied to Streatlam Castle Durham is worth comparison. Belchier is particularly known for his work at Erdigg Hall, Wrexham for which he supplied the finest quality ‘mirror glasses, cabinet works and chairs’.

A Pair of George I Seaweed Marquetry Side Chairs Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Detail of a Pair of George I Seaweed Marquetry Side Chairs
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Three related pairs of chairs, commissioned by Sir John Trevor (c.1637-1717) for Trevor House, later Powis House, Knightsbridge and then removed in the mid 18th century to Brynkinalt, Denbighshire, were sold Sotheby’s London, Of Royal and Noble Descent, 19 January 2017, lots 333-335. These chairs show near identical construction, similar inlaid marquetry panels, and near identical feet. A further set of walnut and marquetry chairs featuring the similar leg pattern and hoof foot was supplied to Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 3rd Earl of Stafford for Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire.

Come to see these wonderful chairs at the gallery: you will spot them in the window!

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