Item Details

Primitive Georgian Reading Chair

Ref# DPTR-4755
Of the various forms of Windsor chair this is certainly one of the more uncommon. The introduction of specialised reading chairs to libraries is seen early in the 18th century, often made in mahogany or walnut with rests aloft the top rail for the sole purposes of reading and writing.

This example, constructed of ash and pine components united with an elm seat, is an interesting and scarce find. It is to be speculated that this too had a rest attached to the top rail at some stage due to the consequent holes.

Often referred to as a 'cock-fighting chair' this term seems to have been coined in the 20th century. And whilst there is every possibility that they were used at such events on occasion they were not designed for this purpose. Sheraton writes in his "Cabinet Dictionary", 1803, 'they are intended to make the exercise of reading easy, and for the convenience of taking down a note or quotation from any subject. The reader places himself with his back to the front of the chair and rests his arms on the top yoke.'

It retains a historic black painted surface with expected wear and traces of the original first coat of green, its intent to be used outside. A triplet of Cupid's bow motifs are utilised in its refined ornament. Further testament to the carpenter's flair is seen below the central slat where originally three fine decorative spindles would have been present.

Pegged construction is used and the pine rear and ash front legs are through-wedged the slab seat, adequately splayed and tapered. The pine legs are contemporary to the 19th century overpaint, historic restoration.

West Country, England, 18th century.

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