Each with husk and guilloche-carved oval caned back above a serpentine seat, the rails centred by fluted tablets flanked by roundels, on turned tapering fluted legs with stiff-leaf toupie feet.
Attributed to François Hervé and almost certainly supplied by Henry Holland.
Supplied to George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834) either for Spencer House, London or Althorp, Northamptonshire and thence by descent.
Albert Edward John, 7th Earl Spencer (1892-1975), Althorp, Furniture, Vol. I, circa 1937 and later P. Thornton and J. Hardy, 'The Spencer Furniture at Althorp', Apollo, October 1968, p. 270, fig. 8
The present set of eight side chairs are attributed to the Parisian chair maker François Hervé who is known to have supplied pieces to Daguerre and in turn Henry Holland. These caned 'cabriolet' chairs à la medaillon are characteristic of Hervé's oeuvre. The Spencer chairs display a far more developed and robust neoclassical vocabulary when compared with the 'transitional' caned chairs executed for the 5th Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in 1782. Interestingly, Hervé generally confined himself to chair-frame making and frequently caning. The actual japanning, gilding or addition of composition ornament appears to have been sub-contracted to others, for example a bill from Bickleys of 1782 to Spencer's brother-in-law, the 5th Duke of Devonshire included 'japanned seven dozen backstools cane colour'.
François Hervé was a French furniture maker, employed initially by the fifth Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, in the 1770’s at Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Both the Duke and Duchess were Francophile’s and appreciated good quality furniture and neo-classical styles. It was the Devonshire’s who first employed the group of Anglo-French craftsmen such as Nelson and Hervé who later became prominent under Henry Holland, an architect to the English nobility.
His style was closer to that of Parisian taste than his English rivals, although he sometimes adopted the English habit of splaying the back legs of chairs. Paterae at the junction of the seat rail and the leg are a characteristically French ornament, as is fluting and counter fluting.
Dominique Daguerre was a Parisian marchand-mercier who was in partnership from 1772 with Simon-Philippe Poirier, an arbiter of taste and the inventor of furniture mounted with Sèvres porcelain plaques; Daguerre assumed Poirier's business at La Couronne d'Or in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 1777/78. Daguerre commissioned furniture from ébénistes such as Adam Weisweiler, Martin Carlin and Claude-Charles Saunier, and menuisiers like Georges Jacob, for whom he would provide designs, for resale to his clients, in the manner of an interior decorator.
In 1778 Daguerre moved to London, retaining partnership with Martin-Eloi Lignereux, who remained in Paris. Daguerre set up premises in Sloane Street, Chelsea. He was responsible for furnishing interiors at Carlton House, where his account in 1787 for furniture and furnishings totalled £14,565 13s 6d, and at Brighton Pavilion for George, Prince of Wales, 1787-89. Even chimneypieces were imported from Paris, to be adjusted by craftsmen in London, according to surviving bills. Whilst in England, Daguerre worked closely with the architect Henry Holland and supplied pieces for Earl Spencer at Althorp, the Duke of Buckingham at Woburn and extensively at Carlton House for the Prince Regent.
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