Seating in Silhouettte: Chairs in Profile

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A George II walnut side chair attributed to Giles Grendey shown in profile Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Back by popular demand… we are looking at chairs from a different angle today.

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A George II walnut Gainsborough chair attributed to Giles Grendey Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

You would always expect to see a chair front on, or perhaps at a slight diagonal, as these angles are the best way to show the legs, upholstery, carving, and overall shape.  The George II walnut Gainsborough chair shown above is a perfect example.  This exquisite chair attributed to Giles Grendey shows the exceptional carving on the front legs and arms along with the generous shape and breadth of the chair.  However, there is plenty more to see.

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A George II walnut Gainsborough chair attributed to Giles Grendey show in profile 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

When photographed from the side, we see a wholly different perspective and aspect of the chair and its design.  In addition to the beautifully carved front legs, this chair’s back legs are equally magnificent in the carved detail.  The side profile also emphasises the great depth of the chair, which makes it a perfect piece to place in the middle of the room so it can be appreciated from all angles.  A photograph from the front does not do the chair justice, and therefore capturing the chair in profile is just as important.

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A George II walnut side chair attributed to Giles Grendey 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

The George II walnut side chair shown above is similarly attributed to Giles Grendey.  From this angle, it is very easy to see the carving on the front legs and the French needlework seat and backs.

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A George II walnut side chair attributed to Giles Grendey shown in profile 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Once again, from a side angle, the chair takes on a new life.  The dramatically outswept and elegantly carved legs make it ideal for placing in the centre of a room.

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A George I gilt gesso settee attributed to James Moore 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Occasionally it is not just the side view that matters, but also the back.  Our George I gilt gesso settee attributed to James Moore is an exceptionally rare survival of the gilt gesso technique of a settee of this time.  The gesso work is beautifully executed on the show frame throughout.

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A George I gilt gesso settee attributed to James Moore shown from behind Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Incredibly, this gesso work is continued on the back of the settee, which is finished to the same degree as the front.  Having an image of the back gives the sense of how special and rare this piece really is.

Below we have included several more examples of chairs photographed from the side.  Have a closer look at these images to see what elements you can identify that are not visible from the main photographs.

This pair of George II mahogany armchairs retain its original Genoese silk velvet covers. The chairs come from Warwick Castle and are in remarkable condition.  The outswept back legs are carved with the same attention to detail as the front legs.

The Newhailes library armchairs retain their original Aubusson tapestry covers and feature exceptional fretwork carved details to the legs.  Showing the chair in profile highlights the fretwork carving on the stretchers, along with the trailing floral garlands down the front and back legs.

This set of four mahogany armchairs attributed to John Cobb have incredible carved gadrooning on the show frames, arms, and legs.  The profile angle shows the gadrooning on the back legs as well as the elegant overall form of the chairs.

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