Antique Chairs - Item 3214
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||Gothic Armchair or "Throne" Chair
||Width 24, Height 73½, Depth 23 (in inches)
This chair is one
of the most unique we have ever encountered, both in terms of its grand size
and stupendous carving. In its overall
structure, it harks back to the chayre of Medieval France: a high-backed design whose seat doubled as
the top of a box derived from the chest or coffre for securing valuables. This design was popular in northern France in
the late 15th century and incorporated standard Gothic elements such as tracery
(fenestrage), finials, and linen-fold panels.
Only later modelsboasted highly intricate carving and were made of walnut, as is this one,
rather than oak. Along the way, the
backs grew ever higher. These became
known as sièges d’apparat or ceremonial chairs, meaning that they signaled the
importance or status of their occupant.
This chair is a19th century interpretation of the chayre retaining the grandeur of design but offering
greater portability and versatility by having an open bottom based on an “H”
shaped stretcher – an interpretation of the chayre adapted by French designers
during the “Second Renaissance” of the later 16th century.
The design of theback features elongated Gothic (pointed) arches crowned by two circular motifs
combining elements of the rosace or rose window and the quatre feuille or
quatrefoil. The back of the chair is
topped by a central finial, which forms part of the pointed arch that frames
the entire back, and more elaborate finials on both sides. The crocketing or mini-oak leaves (rather
than the standard acanthus leaf) ornamenting the top of the ogive arch between
the outer finials, is beautifully carved.
It mirrors the tiny oak leaves at the top of the arches carved into the
finial structures on either side of the chair.
Below the armrests is openwork tracery, intricately carved and showing the virtuosity of
this chair’s maker. At the junction of
armrest and back is a tightly wound, stylized acanthus leaf ornamenting the
junction of chair back and armrest.
Ader-Tajan, Collection Bruno Perrier Haute
Epoque (Catalog for Sale at Auction on April 6, 1992 at the Hôtel Drouot,
Paris); Boccador, Jacqueline, Le Mobilier Français du Moyen Age à la
Renaissance, Editions d'Art Monelle Hayot (Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, 1988);
Charles, Corinne, Visions d'Intérieurs, du
Meuble au Décor (Paris-Musées, Paris, 2003); Thirion, Jacques, Le Mobilier du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance en France
(Editions Faton, Dijon, 1998); Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène, Le Mobilier Médiéval
(Georges Bernage, editor) (Editions Heimdal, 2003)
by the 19th century French novelist Victor Hugo who collected Gothic Revival
furniture, such a high-backed chair is ideal for a dining room, signaling the
rank of paterfamilias or otherwise elevated status. It would also
lend authority to a foyer or entryway, library, or any room inviting a bit of
grandeur. Given that the
back is finished, unlike most others we see, it would also be suitable for
placing at an angle in front of a fireplace.