An exceedingly rare Elizabeth I oak armchair, a so-called Glastonbury chair, possibly Somerset and the surrounding area, circa 1570-1600

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Lot 438* TP
An exceedingly rare Elizabeth I oak armchair, a so-called Glastonbury chair, possibly Somerset and the surrounding area, circa 1570-1600

Sold for £ 35,000 (US$ 46,669) inc. premium
An exceedingly rare Elizabeth I oak armchair, a so-called Glastonbury chair, possibly Somerset and the surrounding area, circa 1570-1600
Of pegged construction, the back of three boards, carved with paired guilloche-filled arches, each arch enclosing a demi-flower above a flower-filled lozenge, the tip of a second lozenge to each lower edge, the scroll-shaped cresting line-carved with pairs of downward-pointing leaves and a central 'Gothic' tri-form leaf, the face of each back rail with multiple fine run-mouldings and pyramidal-finials, the arms with an accentuated raised 'elbow-rest', the seat of three boards, 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, 60cm wide x 57cm deep x 98.5cm high, (23 1/2in wide x 22in deep x 38 1/2in high)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Purchased from Alistair Sampson Antiques, Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, London, 1990.

    The generic name 'Glastonbury Chair', given to this type of late 16th/early 17th century folding-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 on 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. The chair is now in the Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset.

    There are very few genuine 'Glastonbury Chairs' in existence, perhaps as little as thirteen - see Tobias Jellinek, Early British Chairs and Seats, p. 117. The recorded examples all have the same basic form, and a remarkably similar design to the back board[s], thereby strongly indicating many were produced in one workshop/region.

    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.

    Similar examples are in The Metropolitan Museum, New York [accession number 12.5]; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London [accession number W.232-1923]; and The Ipswich Museum, Massachusetts.
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An exceedingly rare Elizabeth I oak armchair, a so-called Glastonbury chair, possibly Somerset and the surrounding area, circa 1570-1600
An exceedingly rare Elizabeth I oak armchair, a so-called Glastonbury chair, possibly Somerset and the surrounding area, circa 1570-1600
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Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £10,000 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £10,000 up to and including £450,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £450,000 up to and including £4,500,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £4,500,000.

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TP Off site storage location

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