Chair #42, Upholstered Chairs, c.1715–45

Chair, c.1730–40

Walnut, now with 18th-century needlework

The front rail is carved with a mask. Lhe inside face of the back seat rail carries a paper label that reads, ‘Kent Gallery Ltd. Early 18th century English furniture 44 Conduit street, London W1’. This chair was formerly in the collection of Percival D. Griffiths (1862–1937).


Adam Bowett Catalogue (19/08/2012)


A walnut framed chair, c.1730-40. The rectangular back and seat are covered with floral needlework on a brown ground. The lower edge of the seat rails has a broad ovolo moulding centered at the front by a carved mask of Juno. The substantial cabriole legs have raised, scrolled-over corners, shell-carved knees and claw feet, the ogee back feet have stylized square hooves.


H: 40” (102cm) Seat height: 18 ½” (47cm) W: 25” (64cm) D: 27“ (69cm)


Walnut, beech, various upholstery materials.

Dating criteria

There is large group of similar chairs bearing a mask to the front with various forms of cabriole legs and carved with neo-Palladian motifs, attributable to the 1730s.


Construction of the back frame is conjectural because fully enclosed by upholstery. The substantial seat rails are of beech, tenoned into the tops of the legs and braced at each corner with nailed beechwood struts. The legs are solid walnut, supported by walnut brackets and shaped walnut or beech support blocks behind. The ovolo seat rail moulding is of cross-grained walnut backed onto deal strips and glued to the rails. The mask to the centre is carved from a solid walnut block and applied. The solid walnut back legs are thicknessed on the outer faces of the knees and the feet.

Marks or stamps

Inside face of the back seat rails carries a paper label of ‘Kent Gallery Ltd. Early 18th century English furniture 44 Conduit Street,. London W1’


All visible wood surfaces are heavily patinated and varnished. The frame appears to be substantially original, albeit heavily wormed. The front left corner was at one time reinforced with a block or blocks screwed inside the rails; this has now been removed and the strut in that position presumably therefore cannot be original. All four feet have metal domed gliders attached. There is a substantial patched repair to the right back foot.

Additional remarks

An unusually heavily constructed chair. It belongs to a group of seat furniture with masks in the front rail deemed highly collectable by mid-20th century collectors. Although much has been written about them, no documented examples survive.


W. Symonds, ‘Sandridgebury, the country residence of Percival D. Griffiths’, The Magazine Antiques (March 1931), pp. 193-6.
W. Symonds ‘The Chair Maker’, Connoisseur (November 1938), p. 240, fig. IX.
W. Symonds, ‘Walnut and Mahogany Chairs in the eighteenth century In the collection of Mr. Frederick Poke’, Apollo (August 1939), p. 51, vi.
W. Symonds, ‘The Chair with the Mask on the Seat Rail’, The Antique Collector, December 1954, pp. 222-227, fig. 8.

Exhibited, Herbert Gallery, Coventry, 1982-97.


Percival D. Griffiths

Frederick Poke, then by descent.

Purchased Sotheby’s June 2001.