Brief description

One of a pair of caned armchairs, with a twist-turned and carved walnut frame and caned seat and back, made in England c.1685-1700.

Object name


Object number



On Display

Production date

c.1695 (manufactured)

Production place

England (manufactured)


Stuart (1603-1714)





Physical description

A walnut and cane elbow chair, with a twist-turned frame, the back with an oval caned panel framed on all four side by opposed scrolls centred on a crown, between twist-turned back posts with finialled tops; the arms of moulded section and flat on the underside, downcurved or 'compassed' and ending in scrolled terminals on twist-turned supports. The trapezoidal caned seat has shallow leaf-carved decoration to the rails and is raised on leaf-carved 'horsebone' forelegs with scrolled feet, joined by a fore-rail carved with opposed scrolls centred on a crown; the stretchers all twist-turned, the back legs with square-section raked 'heels'. The chair is stamped 'P' on the inside edge of each vertical back frame.

The construction of the chair is as follows: the back posts, front posts (legs and arm supports) and stretchers are lathe-turned. The back stretcher is tenoned into the back posts, and the medial stretcher is tenoned into the side stretchers. The side stretchers and seat frame are tenoned into the back and front posts. The crest rail and lower back rail are tenoned into the back posts. The vertical back rails are tenoned into the horizontal back rails. The arms are tenoned into the back posts and mortised to receive the tenoned tops of the front posts. The joints are pegged at the following points: the back stretcher to the back posts; side stretchers to back heels and front feet; side seat rails to the front and back posts; the arm terminals to the arm supports; the arms to the rear posts; the crest rail to the back posts (here the pin is visible from the rear only).

The colour of the chair is a uniform, mid-brown, with evenly graduated patination overall, darker with accumulated dirt on the carved elements, lighter on raised areas. There is evidence of old semi-opaque varnish, which may be original, partly worn through on exposed areas, e.g., the upper surfaces of the arms. The caning to the back and seat are not original. The back frame has an old repaired break to the back of the lower back rail at the junction with the right vertical back frame, associated with weakening by the holes drilled for the cane. The seat has original rails with the following repairs or additions: the front rail has new wood introduced along the full length of the inside edge to repair damage where holes were drilled for the cane; the back rail is similarly reinforced, with new wood drilled for caning about 12mm forward of the original line of the cane, with filler between the old and new wood on the top surface; all four corners have later diagonally-placed oak bracing strips screwed to the underside of the rails. The back right heel has been repaired with a strip of wood about 4-5 mm thick introduced on the inner side. The pegs have been replaced at the following points: arms to back posts; seat rails to front and back posts; stretchers to front and back posts.

The object was physically marked with its Object Number on 08/02/2010, on the right hand side of the rear seat rail.


Height: 119cm
Width: 59cm
Height: 42cm

Website keywords



Label text for 1695 Period Room (Room 2), Geffrye Museum, 2010:

Cane chairs

Cane chairs were reasonably inexpensive, stylish and lightweight, and could be easily moved around the room as needed. They were the most common form of seating in the homes of the middling sort from the 1690s to the 1720s. The parlour was usually furnished with a matching set of chairs. They were placed at the side of the room when not in use.
Walnut and cane, c1685
Purchased with the assistance of the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

Label text for the exhibition At Home with the World, Geffrye Museum (20 March 2012- 9 September 2012):

Caned chair, about 1685
Walnut and cane, England

The cane used to weave the seat and back of this chair was imported from South East Asia. Such chairs were possibly based on Indian chairs bought back by East India Company officials and were at their most fashionable in London between 1670
and 1730. In Europe, caned chairs were considered a peculiarly English form, not much made in other countries and known as à l’Anglaise – in the English manner – in France.
Purchased with the support of the MLA / V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

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