ANTIQUE STOOLS and CANED SEATS - 1615 to 1700
The 17thC saw the widespread introduction of The 17thC saw the widespread introduction
of 'back-stool', literally a stool with a back. Fixed upholstery sometimes replaced loose cushions and after 1660 woven
cane-work - introduced from the East Indies - was fashionably seen on the seats, and often the backs too, of most chairs.
Chairs were increasingly made in sets, I comprising both arm and single chairs.
Continental (and particularly Dutch) influence Was strong on all furniture. Under William and Mary, chair design was greatly influenced by the Huguenot designer Daniel Marot.
Three most common types were:
Farthingales: Fashionable about 1616 to 1660. The name refers to the gap between
the seat and back which presumably allowed women wearing hooped farthingale skirts to sit in relative comfort. These were
probably the earliest type of antique stools. At first, they had four matching turned legs joined by four straight and low stretchers. Upholstered seat; low, upholstered rectangular back with
up-rights covered in same material. Before long the front legs only were turned back, the back legs being plain,
square-sectioned and slightly splayed. Back raked. Baluster turning replaced about 1650 by bobbin and twist.
Oak dining-chairs: About 1650-1700 many of 'country' appearance, but not
necessarily of provincial manufacture. Considerable regional variations though, the most distinctive being the 'Yorkshire and Derbyshire' chair. Despite its name, made in other areas too. Generally square seats, rimmed around the edge. Back with vertical or horizontal slats, sometimes carved. Often a shaped or scrolling top rail. Turned legs at front. After 1660, a new stretcher arrangement became apparent. The plain back, and turned or carved front stretchers, were set higher than before with
two stretchers at either side. This type was quickly superseded in fashionable London.
Canework chairs and Stools: First introduced to Britain about 1665. Inexpensive and common, made in large numbers for all types of houses.
At first, a squarish seat and back with large gap between. Widely spaced canework. All
up-rights and stretchers fashionably twist, occasionally bobbin, turned. Back uprights ending in finials. Flat arms, slightly shaped. 'H'
stretchers introduced with additional and higher stretcher at front and back. Antique Stools were much of the same construction, except there was no back attached.
In 1670, the height of the back increased.1 !he back top rail was formed as carved
crests, complemented by deep, carved front stretcher. Framing of the back also
carved Swept arms, scrolling over the uprights, which were still continuous with the legs.
Scrolls sometimes appeared in the design of front legs and increasingly on the front stretcher
and framing of the canework on the back. This would be one or two rectangular panels,
occasionally an oval.
After 1685, backs grew taller and narrower, with turned column uprights,
sometimes fluted. Mesh of canework finer. Cresting satin, rather than between, the uprights
and sometimes matched the front stretcher. Seats smaller, supported on S-scroll and
baluster turned legs, fashionably ending in an inward-scrolling 'Braganza' foot, a Spanish
feature front stretcher often of Dutch bow form.
During the 1690s, caning on back was often replaced by openwork carving and an upholstered seat. Sometimes a serpentine X-frame
stretcher, close to the ground and supported I on bun feet with tapered legs above and
inverted cup knees. Alternatively, the carved front stretcher was set back several inches and tenoned into side stretchers. Legs sometimes formed as broad S-scrolls. Cabriole legs began I to appear around 1700.
Many almost identical caned chairs were
i mported from Holland in this period and usually can be identified by thicker and shallower twist turning than English pieces; and by the absence or low position of the rear stretcher (level with the 'H' stretchers). More than one type of turning may be present within a single chair.
Singles cheaper than armchairs. Those showing strong Dutch influence, with elaborate
carving and swept arms fetch the largest sums, especially the Marot types, with upholstered seats, pierced backs. Generally increasing in
value as they get later and more elaborate.