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A set of 4 early 18th century Chinese lacquer side chairs. The shaped back with scrolled top rail framing a shield back splat with animalia crest on graciously curved front legs, terminating in scrolled feet. The black lacquer ground decorated throughout with gilded highlights. The seats upholstered in yellow silk.Seat Height: 18in (46cm)These chairs with their tropical hardwood seat rails are of a type seen in a number of important English collections, most notably a single side chair at Beningborough Hall, The National Trust. The animalia crest is as yet unrecognised and is more likely to have been adopted from exotic Chinese fauna by the owner in the early 18th century. The seat rails retain their original Chinese calligraphy in ink, inscribed by the cabinet maker or workshop.Another pair formally in the collection of the Earl of Warwick, Warwick Castle, 1730, see Star Pieces: The Enduring Beauty of Spectacular Furniture, David Linley, 2009, p.95.The port of Canton in China supported a strong furniture making market and these chairs certainly hail from there. Each joint bears a Chinese calligraphy within the frame which was revealed during restoration. The design is distinctively English and stylistically from the first half of the 18th century, though perhaps a little later in manufacture, 1760 or so. Another example can be seen at the V&A and primarily at Warwick Castle, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and in the Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen. The unusual feature of the illustrated set is the presence of a perhaps fictitious crest on the middle of the back splat and despite the black and gold Chinese decoration the lack of Chinese carving or ornamental detail. Perhaps these chairs were actually copied from English hardwood originals.
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