Windsors at Wycombe - A Definitive Exhibition of 18th Century English Windsor Chairs - News
Wednesday 25 January 2012
The greatest collection of 18th century Windsor chairs ever publicly displayed, comprising some 35 of the finest examples known, will be shown from 6-31 May 2012 at West Wycombe Park (National Trust).
The venue, seat of the Dashwood family, is a natural one. The area around the nearby town of High Wycombe has been synonymous with the manufacture of Windsor chairs from the late 18th to the mid-20th century.
The earliest known documentary evidence of the term 'Windsor' chair is in 1720. At that time the style was also referred to as a 'Forest' chair, as they were designed primarily for use outdoors. One of the first recorded mentions of a Windsor chair was by Lord Percival of Hall Barn, near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in 1724.
The Windsor chair is perhaps the most quintessential of all English furniture designs, and the essence of practicality. The defining characteristic of a Windsor chair is a one-piece wooden seat into which the legs are inserted from below, while the spindles and other elements supporting the back and arm-bow slot in from above - effectively a stool with a back.
The design, light, strong and elegant, and relatively inexpensive, could be as simple or elaborate as taste or customer required, and thus the Windsor made its way in to houses both rich and poor, indoors and out, in the kitchen and hall, library and dining room, in wardrooms of Royal Navy ships and great noble households.
All unique and rare examples of their kind, the 18th century Windsor chairs in the display at West Wycombe Park will include the Forest chair of poet Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), one of the few chairs with a reliable provenance, which retains its original green paint. It is part of the V&A Collection. Also, Captain Cook's comb-back Forest chair, a simple style without a splat. It travelled with Cook on his last voyage, dating the chair to c1776. It is part of the Trinity House Collection.
When: 6-31 May, 2012
Where: West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire
Tickets: Please refer to the National Trust website for full details
Contact: The National Trust
Tel: 01494 513 569
Images, from top to bottom:
1. 'Gothick' pointed bow armchair
2. Unusual bow-back with ribbon slats
3. Bodleian Library back stool
4. High comb-back with large armorial splat, West Country, late C18th.
5. Painted X-frame Forest chair
(PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF PIPPA ROBERTS PUBLICITY & COMMUNICATIONS, EXCEPT MAIN IMAGE, WHICH IS COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL TRUST)