Set of Eight Regency Klismos Dining Chairs, by John Gee
A fine set of six (4 side chairs + 2 armchairs) black lacquered and gilt-brass mounted dining chairs of Grecian-revival 'Klismos' form, by John Gee of London,
With turned and curved top-rail above a pair of pierced mid-rails centred with gilt-brass 'English Rose' paterae, the armchairs with scrolled arms terminating in reeded brass paterae, above the caned seats, raised on well-drawn sabre legs.
These black-japanned and cane-seated chairs, with Grecian boldly curved legs and gilt-brass paterae, are designed in the French antique fashion popularised by Thomas Hope and Henry Holland. Their superbly curved 'Sabre' legs derive from the Greek 'Klismos' chair, an epic timeles design, already popular in circa 400 BC, while the lustrous black japanning evoke the then newly fashionable fascination with Ancient Egypt.
Some of the chairs from the set are stamped JG - the brand of the Wardour Street chair-maker John Gee, who was established in Soho in 1799. He was described as 'Chairmaker and Turner to His Majesty' and his firm was granted a Royal Warrant in 1804 (C. Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture, Leeds, 1996, p. 29 and figs. 380 and 390).
Virtually identical pair of side chairs, similarly stamped and branded 'Althorp', originally supplied to George John, second Earl Spencer (1758-1834) around 1800-1810, was sold at Christie's London, 7 July 1994, lot 118. The 2nd Earl, a well-known bibliophile and book-collector, embarked on remodelling his family seat, Althorp, Northamptonshire, between 1787 and 1790, under the guidance of Henry Holland, the architect-designer to the Prince of Wales, later King George IV. Henry Holland's alterations largely shaped the house's look as we know it today. Some updates according to the latest French neo-classical fashion had been carried out to the interiors, too; finest examples of French and English furniture were supplied under Henry Holland's guidance by Dominique Daguerre. The chairs in question, probably, were part of the very last stage of re-decoration, carried out by the 2nd Earl, apparently being a part of a larger commission. Few examples of other models almost certainly from the same workshop, slightly different but closely related to these chairs, similarly black-japanned and mounted with paterae, still remain at Althorp, in the South Drawing Room..