An Indian 17th century carved ebony armchair
Lot 2*Y
A Coromandel Coast second half 17th century carved ebony armchair
Sold for £10,625 (US$ 17,164) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Coromandel Coast second half 17th century carved ebony armchair
the profusely carved and pierced top rail decorated with trailing vines issuing from an urn being supporting by two women, surmounted by a winged cherub mask with ivory eyes and flanking stylised peacocks, above spiral twisted supports and carved uprights, below a pair of birds, with scrolled arms above a drop in seat within a vine carved frame, on spiral twist legs and stretchers, losses to some ivory eyes, the seat 59cm wide

Footnotes

  • Carved ebony chairs were made throughout South East Asia in the later half of the 17th century, particularly in Batavia and along the Coramandel Coast. Coromandel Coast furniture produced in the second half of the 17th century is constructed of solid ebony, pierced or carved in relief and with spirally turned elements. In the late 18th and 19th century ebony chairs and tables were believed to be surviving examples of early English furniture. Horace Walpole firmly believed this theory and acquired a number of carved ebony pieces for his Gothic revival house. Similarly George IV furnished the Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle with ebony chairs. These are illustrated in John Nash's 'The Grand Corridor, central section looking north east, 1846' (H. Roberts, For The King's Pleasure, Royal Collection, 2001, p.234).

    Amin Jaffer distinguishes the carved ebony furniture according to types and this lot shows the greatest similarity to Type C in his classification (Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, London, 2001, p.133, fig. 61). Type C consists of chairs which are mainly pierced with dense scrolling designs worked with Christian or Hindu motifs, frequently elaborate with uprights mounted with finials, often birds, as seen on the present lot.

    Comparable models of chair to this lot are illustrated by Jaffer. The closest were in the Longleat collection. The furniture at Longleat was inventoried in 1740 and included 'An Ebony Table with Fine India carving' and '2 Dozen of chairs ditto, 12 of them with Elbows Fine Cane Bottoms' (ibid, p.133, fig. 64). Another closely related pair of ebony side chairs c.1660-80, carved and pierced with caned drop in seats, the uprights headed by birds, the spirally turned legs punctuated with rectangular blocks carved in low relief with floral sprays and the legs terminating in disc feet, were acquired by the Peabody Museum in 1999 (ibid, p.136). A comparable pair, similarly pierced and carved, were purchased from the Strawberry Hill sale, 1842 by the 14th Earl of Derby, and remain in the family collection (ibid, p.137).

    A set of six related chairs, thought to have been owned by the Drake family of Shardeloes in Buckinghamshire, were sold Sotheby's London, 29 November 2002, lot 104; and a similar pair were sold at Bonhams London 3 November 2010, lot 4.
Auction information

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Y CITES

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