Fig. 307. Walnut Chair. - Capt. The Hon. Richard Legh. II - 2 F c. 1685.
Fig. 306. Walnut Chair.
Fig. 308. Oak And Walnut Day-Bed. - 5 ft. 10 3/4 ins. long by 2 ft. 10 ins., floor to top of back, by 1 ft. 10 ins. depth of seat. - Date about 1660. Victoria and Albert Museum.
Fig. 309. Walnut Day-Bed. - Date about 1670-80. - Messrs. Robersons.
Fig. 310. The Back Of The Day-Bed, Fig. 309.
An innovation of the Restoration years was the day-bed, or chair with seat elongated to form a couch, a piece copied from the French chaise-longue. Whether these walnut day-beds were ever really practical pieces of furniture is doubtful; they appear to possess about as much constructional strength as real comfort, and without thickly padded cushions on seat and back, could hardly have been used at all for the purpose which their name implies. They are rare pieces, at the present day, but this scarcity may be due to one or two causes, or possibly to both. They could not have been made in the same numbers as the chairs which they copy, for reasons which are obvious, and the constructional defects inherent in a couch designed in this manner must have been responsible for frequent breakages and, in many instances, for their destruction as worthless pieces of furniture, especially during that dark period of the nineteenth century, when anything in the way of furniture possessing grace in line or detail appears to have been anathema to the designer.
Fig. 311. Walnut Arm-Chair. - A typical example combining the constructional details of the Restoration period with Flemish details. - 1680-5. Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 314. Walnut Single And Arm-Chair. - 1680-5 - 1665-80 - Capt. The Hon. Richard Legh.
Fig. 316. Walnut Chair. - A type which bridges the Jacobean and Orange period. c. 1690. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 315. Walnut Chair. - The tall back which is typical of the period 1685-9.
Of these Restoration day-beds, those which copy the earlier chair models, such as Fig. 308, where twist turning is employed for the legs and balusters of the back (and which, presumably, are prior to those where the Flemish motives are introduced), are rarely of fine quality. The necessary suppression of constructional knowledge, at the dictates of an absurd fashion, which the contortion of the back of this example must have demanded, probably militated largely against the chair-maker taking a sympathetic interest in such productions.
Fig. 318. Walnut Arm-Chair. - With turning of Portuguese influence and flattened " bun" feet. 1690-5. M.ssrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 317. Walnut Chair. - The earlier logical construction persisting to a later date. - C. 1690. - Messrs. Gill and Reigate.
Figs. 309 and 310 show an interesting example of these day-beds - rare also by reason of its great depth of seat and width of back, measuring nearly three feet across, - which was recently bought from Gwydir Castle, that nobleman's seat so charmingly situated on the banks of the Conway river. Although actually a Restoration piece, it possesses few of the really typical details of the Charles II period, other than in the logical framing of the back. That the Flemish curve is a novel motive of this date is suggested by its use everywhere, on legs, stretchers, and back framings. Although not of the finest quality, the general design, especially that of the back, is good in line and proportion. The difficulty of the abruptly-sloping back, without adequate support, has here been shirked by fitting it, at the base, with metal pegs, which are socketed into the seat framing, - an evident confession of failure.
Mention has already been made of the difference, in the construction of chair backs, between tenoning the cresting rail between the side balusters, and dowelling it on. The former is as good as the latter method is bad. The chairs of the short reign of James II differ from those of the Charles II period in this constructional detail, more than in any other. Backs become taller, and seats narrower, as a rule, and there is an ever-growing tendency to use the turned baluster and the Flemish curve and C-scroll, and although these are general indications of later date, they are by no means infallible. Many chairs were made, before 1685, where the backs were disproportionately tall and the seats very narrow, and where a lavish use was made of the Flemish curves. After 1685 some chairs have low backs and broad seats, but in this dowelling on, instead of tenoning between balusters of the back crestings, we have an almost certain indication of a period subsequent to 1685. It will be as well to bear this in mind, as in some of the examples to be shown here, this is the only detail which establishes an early date for one, and a later period for another. Fig. 311, as an instance of this, is a typical James II chair in even-respect, with the sole exception of the cresting fixed between the squares of the balusters. The Flemish double-scrolled curve is used everywhere, and vase-turning of legs and rails has superseded the former twisting. That this chair dates between 1680 and 1685 is unquestionable; it cannot be earlier than the first nor later than the second. It has, also, not the jumble of details which a later copy (made as a spontaneous creation and not as a deliberate imitation) would, almost certainly, have possessed. It is a fine chair, well designed and logically constructed.