Charles II Carved Walnut Caned Armchair
Charles II Carved Walnut Caned Armchair
Charles II Carved Walnut Caned Armchair
Charles II Carved Walnut Caned Armchair
Charles II Carved Walnut Caned Armchair

Charles II Carved Walnut Caned Armchair

c. 1680 England

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons


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With down-curved or ‘compassed’ moulded arms, carved at the shoulder and the terminal, and the terminal itself scrolled over in a leafy whorl. With a twist-turned frame and carved horsebone scrolls bordering the back panel. The caned oval back panel is framed by an arched top rail, inversely carved bottom rail, and narrow upright sides, all carved and set between spiral-twist back stiles which end in turned vase-and-ball finials. The back panel itself is unusual, being curved rather than rectangular. With a carved crest rail. The caned seat rests on spiral turned legs joined by a carved double S scroll fore-rail, echoing the top rail and H-form spiral stretchers below. Adam Bowett explains that the words used to ‘describe the carved foliate decoration which characterises Carolean chairs from about 1675 onwards’ were ‘cutt’ or ‘wrought’ with ‘scrowles’ (Adam Bowett, ‘English Furniture 1660 – 1714: From Charles II to Queen Anne’ (Antique Collectors’ Club, 2002, p.88)).

This chair features the oval back, which was introduced in the 1680s. This makes it a rare example as, at this time, the twist-turned chair was ‘nearing the end of its fashionable life’ (Bowett, p.230). Bowett notes that the horsebone scrolls, which are carved into the frames of the back panel, lend themselves to the oval shape. He comments: ‘Because oval backs were not introduced until twist-turned frames were becoming passé, the combination of oval back and twist-turned frame is actually relatively uncommon in England.’ (Bowett, p.230). For a similar example see Bowett, ‘English Furniture 1660 – 1714’, Plate 8:1, p.231.

Adam Bowett states that: ‘The rise of the caned chair manufactory was one of the great success stories of English furniture making’ (p.22). Both the technique and the material of caning came from the Orient, with the ‘cane’ being made from the trailing suckers of the Rotang or Rattan cane (Calamus rotang), a plant native to Asia. The suckers were split to produce long, narrow strips, which were very robust and easily pliable when damp or green. According to the London Cane-Chairmakers’ petition of 1690, caning for seat furniture did not come into fashion until ‘about the year 1664’ (p.84). Inspired by Chinese prototypes, English caned chairs quickly established their own stylistic and structural vocabulary, and became a distinctively English product (Bowett, pp.22-23; 84-8).
Swinfen Hall, Lichfield, Staffordshire, until 1949.
Height 118.00 cm (46.46 inches)
Width 63.50 cm (25.00 inches)
Depth 67.25 cm (26.48 inches)
Stock Code
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP

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