Pair of 16th century giltwood chairs

16th century

W 21 1/2" × H 33 1/2" × D 20"

Stock # Bon8


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A pair of carved giltwood low chairs, Indo-Portugese Each ornately carved throughout, with a floral-carved triangular cresting above a paired row of five arcaded open spindles, flanked by leaf and lobed-carved uprights, above a padded seat, upholstered in salmon-pink floral silk with tassel fringe, on turned and floral carved legs. FOOTNOTES A related chair of late 16th century date sold Bonhams, Chester, 19th January 2012, lot 379. This chair compares to two celebrated chairs at Losely Hall, Surrey, which were reputedly part of a set used by Queen Elizabeth I's Ladies in Waiting. See S. Watkins, In Public and in Private Elizabeth I and Her World (1998), p. 52. It is understood this type of distinctive low giltwood chair originated in the Bay of Bengal. Although the chairs are of local form there are recorded examples with European High Renaissance motifs, which implies they were probably intended for export to the West. Indeed, it has been suggested that the Losely chairs may have been presented to the English Court as a diplomatic gift. The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama (c.1460s-1524), was the first European to reach India by sea, on the 20th May 1498, and thereby established the exchange of goods between India and Portugal. Although trade centred predominantly around spices it is known that more refined objects gradually made their way to the West, such as a table with its feet 'all covered in gold' received by the Portuguese general Afonso de Albuquerque (c.1453-1515), from an Indian local ruler, and presented to the Portuguese King, D. Manuel I (1495-1521). Two low chairs from India had also reached the Spanish court by the third quarter of the 16th century. They are depicted by the Italian Mannerist painter Federico Zuccaro (1540/41-1609) in an 'Annunciation' altarpiece, at the El Escorial, near Madrid. Although these chairs are again Indian in form one uses Renaissance motifs in its decoration. A further comparable chair, in the Collection of the Museu d'Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona, Museu Monestir de Pedralbes, was exhibited Luxury for Export - Artistic Exchange between India and Portugal around 1600, Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston, U.S.A, 8th February - 4th May 2008.