A pair of early eighteenth century japanned side chairs in the manner of John Ball, each with a pierced cresting with confronted S-scrolls, the serpentine caned back with central rectangular splat above a caned seat with a loose cushion, on cabriole legs joined by a serpentine H-shaped stretcher centred by a flaming urn finial, ending in square pad feet. Both chairs inscised ‘WD’ on the back of the splat.
Lanto Synge, ‘Great English Furniture’, London, 1991, figure 62.
A. Bowett, “Myths of English Furniture History: The Queen Anne Chair”, ‘Antique Collecting’, June 2000, pages 10-14, figure 3, 4 and 5.
“This caned back Queen Anne ‘India’ patterned parlour chair was adopted for the trade-sign of the ‘Cane Chair’ manufacturer John Ball, while trading at ‘The Crown and Three Chairs’ in the Minories, near Little Tower Hill in London. It also appears on John Ball’s trade-sheet, with the advertisement that he: ‘Makes and Sells all Sorts of Cane Chairs, Silk Chairs, Leather Chairs, Matted Chairs and Couches’. The present chairs have serpentine frames with stretched-tied and truss-pilaster legs, which were described in 1715 as the ‘newest fashion’, when the Court upholsterer Thomas Phill of the Strand supplied related chairs for Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire.
The influence of the East India Company is also evident in another suite of Phill’s related cane-seated parlour chairs, listed in the Parlour in the 1717 Canons Ashby inventory. The latter featured the serpentine back with central ‘Chinese’ fashioned ribbon splat; in the manner of a red-japanned chair that entered the Victoria and Albert Museum collection in 1938 and is illustrated in Bowett’s article for ‘Antique Collecting’ titled “Myths of English Furniture History: The Queen Anne Chair”.
The japanned ornament, in the manner of trompe l’oeil lacquer, is executed in the method described in J. Stalker and G. Parker, ‘A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing’, Oxford, 1688.”