Elizabeth I joined chair
West Country, probably Wiltshire, Dorset, or Somerset
W 26.75" × H 41" × D 21"
Stock # MARH0199
Late Elizabeth I joined chair of Anglo-French, caqueteuse, form. This chair is of one of a recognizable group of West-Country joined chairs of French-derived design that are popularly associated with Salisbury. These objects are linked by a relatively consistent set of structural and ornamental attributes: tall, narrow proportions; dramatically trapezoidal ground-plans and heavily racked backs; horizontally oriented scrolled rams that are tenoned into the faces of the back stiles; wide, flaring seats that substantially overrun the width of the seat rails; elongated, club-shaped baluster turnings; extensive use of wide convex mouldings worked with two alternating rows of notched gouge strikes. On the basis of their proportions and the configuration of their arms, these chairs are interpreted as a regional English interpretation of the French seating furniture of the mid and late sixteenth century. The West Country cemented enduring social and demographic connections with France through the trade in local broadcloths and kerseys that flourished from approximately 1460 to 1560. Many Continental artisans relocated to the regions to support the immigrant merchants and cloth workers living in the region. These immigrant artisans remained even after the demise of the Low-Countries woolens market. Their skills and design preferences were integrated with those of local artisans through social interaction and kinship ties. The radical backward rake of this chairs back, its relatively complex and robust turnings, and extensive use of channel mouldings situate the chair towards the earlier period of the chronology, perhaps as early as 1590. The elaborate s-scroll that fills the back panel, however, links the chair to joined chairs associated with Somerset, suggesting a possible East Somerset origin. The Salisbury attribution hangs on the survival of several datable examples in situ in Salisbury. The most notable is the so called Council House chair donated to the New Council House by then mayor Robert Brewer in 1585. Many of the most elaborate chairs are tenuously attributed to Beckham family of Salisbury woodworking artisans. In all likelihood Salisbury chairs instead represent the operation of a much wider, regional design preference, expressed in the work of area joiners. Salisbury chairs are explored in greater depth in Chinnery, Oak Furniture, The British Tradition, pp. 448-454. Untouched, as-found condition, retaining original single-board seat and undisturbed, original surface. Lower corner blocks, toes, and stretchers lost.