Ebonised oak and beech and original rush
This chair comes from a set of 137 designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow. It was probably made by Alexander Martin, Glasgow, and is one of a pair.
Adam Bowett Catalogue 14/08/2012
A chair, c.1903. The tall and narrow ladder back is dished to accommodate the sitter between angled rectangular back posts; the trapezoid slip seat is rushed and raised on slender square legs, joined by a spindle front stretcher and with double side stretchers.
H: 41” (104cm) Seat height: 16 ½ ” (42cm) W:18 ” (46cm) D: 15 ½ “ (39cm)
C. R. Mackintosh
Oak, beech, and possibly other woods, rush.
This design was first produced for the Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow, which opened in 1904.
The back is formed of two oak posts into which the curved slats or ‘rungs’ are tenoned. The seat rails are presumably tenoned into the back posts and into the tops of the front legs, the front rail likewise. There is an additional seat rail which supports the back of the seat and is tenoned into the side rails. All four corners are braced with shaped and screwed braces. All stretchers are turned and presumably doweled into their respective legs. The back of the chair has slim oak batten screwed across the top, which could be original but equally could be a later addition. The slip seat is constructed in the traditional manner with oak corner blocks and roughly-shaped rails woven with rush; however, it is not a good fit in the rails and the inside front corners of the rails are radiused as if to accept an upholstered seat. The seat may not be original.
Marks or stamps
The brace at the back of the seat rail is marked 61.
The whole chair is covered with a dark wash to suggest an ebonised finish. There has been a great deal of re-touching and in many exposed areas e.g., the seat rails, the wash has largely worn off. The chair is now sound but the design clearly has inherent structural problems, particularly where the curved rungs are fitted into the uprights; there are numerous repairs at these points, indicating that the mortises were cut too close to the edge of the post.
This is a well-known Mackintosh design, first produced for the Willow Tea Rooms, on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. These opened in 1904, but it is thought most of the furniture was designed between July and November 1903.
Roger Billcliffe, Mackintosh Furniture, Cambridge (1984).
Purchased H. Blairman and Sons, March 2007, by whom purchased from a private collection.
Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow