Rare Pair of Regency Scallop Back Hall Chairs
Rare and unusual pair of late Regency - William IV period mahogany hall chairs, in the Kentian baroque-revival taste, after a design by Gillows of Lancaster and London.
Possibly Irish, c. 1825-35.
Each chair having the scalloped shell carved back, moulded trapezoidal solid seat, raised on boldly scrolled foliage carved front legs and outswept back supports.
Gillows of Lancaster supplied ‘4 handsome mahogany hall chairs the backs carved as a shell...’ to the Reverend H. Holland Edwards in 1811. This distinctive shell pattern of the back subsequently became known as the ‘Edwards Pattern’, and became increasingly fashionable in 1810's and 1820's. The present chairs have most unusual boldly scrolling front legs, more commonly seen on console tables, which suggests that the chairs were made en-suite with such a table.
The design of the backs of these chairs shaped as stylized scallop shells, was inspired by antique mythology, particularly those myths with maritime subjects such as Venus, born from the sea and carried ashore in a scallop shell. The restrained and stylized carving give these chairs a decidedly architectural appearance, with their heavy moulded seat rails and chunky fore legs, carved with scrolls and foliage - forms inspired by the English Palladian baroque movement of the first half of the 18th century, and in particular by the furniture designs of William Kent.
Hall chairs were typically not intended to be comfortable, being 'the medium through which the baroque carver gave vent to his most vehement fancies and decorative orgies…excessively ornamented with all the then-prevailing motifs'.
For a comparable example with scrolled legs see Bonhams, 20 November 2013, Lot 209.