M8420.2 | Chair

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19th century
85 x 58 x 48.5 cm
Purchase from the Estate of Miss Lavicount
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Chair (31)
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Keys to History

Such Oriental styling, seen in bamboo or wood resembling cane, is featured in both screens and furniture. This padded-seat armchair is interestingly inset with panels or friezes in its back and sides and below the front seat rail. The central motif in its back vaguely resembles a Shou longevity character. The busy nature of its decoration is seen in the finely scrolled wicker detailing as well as the layering of bamboo for legs and seat support. This single item alone would make any interior look hectic. In combination with other decorative household furnishings, from wallpaper to Oriental-style urns, it is bound to make a room appear crowded. Such Chinese-style furniture offers a contrast to the curves and comfortable nature of easy chairs and is the forerunner of the wickerwork so popular at the end of the century.

Nancy Berliner, and Sarah Handler, "Friends of the House: Furniture from China's Towns and Villages," Peabody Essex Museum Collections 131, no. 2 (1995): 81.

Source : Crowding the Parlour [Web tour], by Jane Cook, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    This is an Oriental-style armchair made from bamboo and wicker. Both Chinese and Japanese styles were popular at the time.

  • Where

    It is not known where the chair was made, at home or abroad.

  • When

    Lord Elgin, governor general of Canada, arrived in Montreal in 1847 and was made viceroy of India in 1862. This style of chair remained popular beyond that period.

  • Who

    Lord Elgin, of "responsible government" fame, is said to have owned this chair. It was purchased from the estate of Miss Lavicount by the McCord Museum.