Description & Technical information

A pair of George II mahogany library armchairs. The needlework was made in the 1750s by Lady Barbara, daughter of the 8th Earl of Pembroke and wife of Dudley North (son of the earlier Dudley North who was married to Catherine Yale). Percy Macquoid inspected the original drawings by Lady Barbara in the early 1900s and published one of them in his seminal work ‘A History of English Furniture’ alongside a photograph of one of these chairs. Sadly the drawings were destroyed in a fire at Glemham in 1913.

The chairs were originally part of a larger suite, from which nine armchairs can be traced. Each chair depicts a different bird, inspired by George Edwards’s ‘Natural History of Uncommon Birds’, published between 1743 and 1751. Another pair of chairs, one depicting a parrot, is in the Colonial Williamsburg collection. Two further chairs depicting a dove and a pigeon and formerly in the Colonial Williamsburg collection are now in a private collection in New York; a single chair depicting an owl is recorded in the Gerstenfeld Collection in Washington; and another single chair depicting a peacock was sold at auction in 1954, although its current whereabouts is unknown.
Height of seat: 16 in

Date:  1755
Period:  1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  England
Medium: Mahogany, Needlework
Dimensions: 103 x 72.5 x 70.5 cm (40¹/₂ x 28¹/₂ x 27³/₄ inches)
Provenance: Supplied to Dudley North, Glemham Hall, Suffolk, England.
By descent to The Earls of Guilford.
Removed to Waldershare Park, Kent, England.
M. Harris & Sons, London, England, 1945.
Collection of Claude Leigh, West Riddins, Sussex, England.
Collection of Anthony Edgar, England, until 1996.
Corporate collection, New York, USA, until 1999.
Private collection, New York, USA.

Literature: Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director, 1st edition, 1754, pl. XVIII.
Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director, 3rd edition, 1762, pl. XXIII.
Georgian Art, ‘Exhibition in aid of the Royal Northern Hospital’, London, 1931, p. 57; one chair of the set.
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, revised edition, 1954, vol. I, p. 288, fig. 197; one chair of the set.
Margaret Jourdain, Georgian Cabinetmakers, 3rd revised edition, 1955, p. 177, illus. 107; one chair of the set. ‘The Williamsburg Collection of Antique Furnishings’, 1973, p. 117; one chair of the set.
Edward Lennox-Boyd (ed.), Masterpieces of English Furniture: The Gerstenfeld Collection, 1998, item 48, pls. 23 & 42; one chair of the set.
Percy Macquoid, A History of English Furniture, vol. III, ‘The Age of Mahogany’, 1906, figs. 188-9; one of the pair illustrated and one of the designs for the needlework by Lady Barbara North.

Categories: Furniture