Bobbin Legged Chair with Italian Upholstery
This lovely, Bergère-style armchair was produced in England during the 19th century. It is upholstered in fine Italian leather and earth-toned linen and velvet fabric. The hand-turned bobbin legs, spreaders, and bun-feet complement the fabric’s lively, vegetal pattern. Bergère chairs first emerged at the beginning of Louis XV’s reign (1715–1774), when furniture pieces became less formal and armchairs were fashioned to be more comfortable. Such chairs stood the test of time and continued to be produced into the 19th century in France and other European countries. The current chair’s rectangular silhouette is much more restrained than that associated with the popular Chippendale styles found in formal, 19th-century English furniture. Bobbin turned legs were also among the few acceptable forms of carving in puritan, Cromwellian furniture. However, the decorative upholstery and tall back disqualify this armchair from further ties to Cromwellian pieces: the gently reclined back, armrests, and fine linen and velvet upholstery signal comfort and luxury. The printed fabric delights the eye with an exquisite, polychromatic garden of British heraldic flowers and geometric patterns.
At this time in Britain, the first iteration of the London Underground opened in 1863, as a way to reduce street congestion. Originally named the Metropolitan Railway, this area of sub-surface railway track is the oldest underground passenger network worldwide. The new railway, consisting of gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam trains, was immediately successful, carrying 38,000 passengers on its opening day.