Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee
Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee
Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee
Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee
Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee
Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee

Chinese Export Padouk Double Chair-back Settee

c. 1750 Goa

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons


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Attributed to a Chinese chair maker working in GOA, INDIA.

The shaped top rail carved with an armorial crest depicting a bird’s head within a coronet, set above scrolled stiles with a rope-twist border. The pierced vasiform splats carved with a foliate cartouche below flowerheads with a stylised shell below. With rope-twist arms above a shaped drop-in seat upholstered in green velvet on a conforming moulded seat rail, set on cabriole legs carved with scrolls and foliage, and ending in paw feet joined by a turned X-frame stretcher.

At this time, Goa was the largest territory in what became known as the State of Portuguese India, but these chairs reflect the fashion for English furniture forms that was popular in southern India in the mid eighteenth Century. It is also known that Chinese craftsmen were working in Goa at that time. There is a very closely related pair of corner chairs at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London (see Amin Jaffer, 'Luxury Goods From India: the art of the Indian Cabinet-Maker', London: V&A, 2002, illustrated on pp. 78-79). Amin Jaffer explains that, when these chairs were acquired by the V&A in 1879, they were believed to be of mid-eighteenth Century English manufacture. It has since been discovered that the chairs were in fact, made by a Chinese chair maker in Goa, and represent the fashion for English furniture there.

Amin Jaffer also illustrates an East India Company gouache from the mid 18th Century depicting ‘An English official in discussion with a nawab and his sons’, while seated on cabriole legged chairs with the same distinctive low cross-stretchers. The stretchers, however, do not appear to have been used by the Chinese chair makers of the same period in Canton. Consequently, various possibilities exist regarding the source and makers of this suite (See Amin Jaffer, 'Furniture from British India and Ceylon', London, 2001, pp. 89-95, for a full discussion of the China trade and India).

The frame of this settee relates to four side chairs which had appeared on the London market, featuring similar rope-twist details, X-frames and distinctive leg patterns. These chairs were attributed to Chinese craftsmen working in Goa (sold by Thomas Coulborn & Sons, 2013).

From around 1940 Esmond Bradley Martin’s collection for Knole House, Westbury, Long Island included a pair of side chairs en suite with this settee. This pair of side chairs was sold on 30th October 2002 in the Sotheby’s sale: 'Property from the Estate of Esmond Bradley Martin: Magnificent English Furniture & Related Decorative Arts' (Sotheby’s, New York, 30th October 2002, lot 157). Sotheby’s indicate that the chairs incorporate the armorial crest of the patron for whom they were commissioned, but the patron was not identified.

The patron is thought to be James West of Alscot. It is likely that the crest which appears both on this settee, and the pair of chairs sold in Sotheby’s, represents a griffin emerging from a ducal coronet. This crest belongs to the West family of Alscot Park, Warwickshire. James West (1703-1772) was a renowned connoisseur, and was President of the Royal Society from 1768 until his death. He employed the eminent London cabinet-makers: Thomas Chippendale; William Linnell; and William Hallett. In consultation with Sanderson Miller, James West rebuilt Alscot, beginning in the late 1740s and completing the task in the 1760s. Alscot was predominantly remodelled in the Gothic rococo style. In 1762, James West retired from politics and built a new wing at Alscot which he used for his Covent Garden collections. In 1766, John Cobb supplied West with a set of ormolu-mounted commodes (Lucy Wood, 'Lady Lever Art Gallery: Catalogue of Commodes', National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, 1994, p. 51, fig. 35). In around 1760, West ordered a Chinese export service which bore his coat of arms (D. S. Howard, 'Chinese Armorial Porcelain, vol. II', 2002, p. 319, p.16) and this service could correspond with the date of the suite of chairs. However, dating export furniture is problematic as models were produced faraway in exotic ports a long time after the designs which inspired them had been produced.

If this suite was owned by West, it is not clear as to when it would have left the family collections.
Probably supplied to James West of Alscot Park, Warwickshire.
Height 105.00 cm (41.34 inches)
Width 120.00 cm (47.24 inches)
Depth 58.50 cm (23.03 inches)
Stock Code
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

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

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