A rare and documented Elizabeth I oak so-called Glastonbury chair, West Country, possibly Somerset, circa 1580-1600 Of unusual small size

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Lot 443*
A rare and documented Elizabeth I oak so-called Glastonbury chair, West Country, possibly Somerset, circa 1580-1600
Of unusual small size

Sold for £ 11,312 (US$ 15,403) inc. premium

The Oak Interior

22 Oct 2020, 11:00 BST

Oxford

A rare and documented Elizabeth I oak so-called Glastonbury chair, West Country, possibly Somerset, circa 1580-1600
Of unusual small size
Of pegged construction, the raked back of two boards, typically carved with paired guilloche-filled arches, enclosing a demi-flower above a flower-filled lozenge, unusually the tip of a second lozenge to each lower edge is not present, the scroll-shaped cresting linear-carved with pairs of downward-pointing scrolls and a central 'Gothic' tri-form leaf, the face of each back upright with multiple fine run-mouldings and integral pyramidal-finials, the arms with an accentuated raised 'elbow-rest', the seat board grooved into side rails with similar run-moulded top edge, the simple legs forming X-form side supports, with hand-shaped central stretcher, of similar 'rod-form' creating the front and rear seat rails, 54cm wide x 56cm deep x 93.5cm high, (21in wide x 22in deep x 36 1/2in high)

Footnotes

  • Illustrated:
    Tobias Jellinek, Early British Chairs and Seats 1500 to 1700 (2009), p. 120, pl. 129.

    The generic name 'Glastonbury Chair' is believed to originate from a chair reputedly made for John Arthur Thorne, the last Treasurer of Glastonbury Abbey, executed in 1539, the year the Abbey was dissolved. A carved Latin inscription to the cresting rails reads - John Arthur, Monk of Glastonbury, may God save him, Praise be to God, Lord give Peace. The inscription would suggest that the chair was most likely made in Thorne's memory, post 1539. This chair is now in the Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset.

    A 'Glastonbury' armchair with the back panel finely carved with a coat of arms attributed to Sir John Arundell III (d.1561) of Trerice, near Newquay, Cornwall, firmly places this type of chair as being made in the 16th century. The chair is illustrated and discussed, Adam Bowett, 100 British Chairs & Seats (2015), p. 15, and dated to circa 1540 - 75. Further examples are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum, New York [12.5], and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London [W.232-1923]. The latter was formerly the property of the Very Rev. Dr Cowie, Dean of Exeter. See also articles written for The Journal of the Regional Furniture Society by Gabriel Olive, 'The Glastonbury Chair' (1994), pp. 24-41 and by Anthony Wells-Cole, 'A Last Outpost of the Known World: Vernacular Furniture in Tudor and Stuart Cornwall', (1988), pp. 6-1. Tobias Jellinek, Early British Chairs and Seats (2009), p. 117, suggests there may be as few as thirteen genuine 'Glastonbury' chairs recorded. All have the same basic form, and a remarkably similar design to the back boards. This strongly suggests the chairs were produced in one workshop and/or region, with many of the chairs having links to the West Country. Although a Glastonbury chair has the appearance of a folding-chair, it cannot actually fold. Instead, it is constructed with removable pegs and designed to be taken apart, in the manner of campaign furniture.

    A related Glastonbury chair sold Bonhams, New Bond Street, London, 28 March 2018, Lot 438 (£35,000). Another, from 'The Olive Collection', sold 31 January 2019, Lot 237 (£35,000). A third example sold in these rooms, 19 February 2020, Lot 116 (£37,562)
Contacts
A rare and documented Elizabeth I oak so-called Glastonbury chair, West Country, possibly Somerset, circa 1580-1600 Of unusual small size
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