11603 AN UNUSUAL PAIR OF ASHWOOD AND INLAID ARTS AND CRAFTS PERIOD ARMCHAIRS IN THE MANNER OF CHARLES BEVAN English. Circa 1870. Measurements: Width: 26 3/4” (68 cm); Height: 37 3/4″ (96 cm); Depth: 35” (89 cm).
Of ash and various woods. The upholstered rectangular back and seat flanked by upholstered armrests raised on paneled sides with inlaid roundels of foliate and tri-lobed geometric shapes within a carved quatrefoil motif, with turned and inlaid columns to the front. The lower edge of the seat rail with incised serrated decoration, the whole raised on turned front legs on replaced castors and splayed rear legs.
The present pair of chairs is designed in the manner of Charles Bevan (fl. 1865-1883). Bevan is known to have been working in London by the 1860s; he was at 66 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square in 1865–66, at 46 Berners Street from 1866–72, and at 100 High Holborn from 1872–83. From this point onward, with his son George Albert as partner, the firm was known as C Bevan & Son, Designers, Wood Carvers and Manufacturers of Art Furniture.
Bevan’s furniture is often elaborately ornamented with Gothic-style motifs such as roundels and stylized foliage using inlays of various woods. His designs were produced by the leading cabinetmaking firms of the day including Lamb of Manchester, Holland & Son, Gillows, and Marsh & Jones of Leeds, whom Bevan described as ‘Medieval Cabinet-Makers’ in his advertisements, and who were responsible for realizing some of his more impressive works. A lady’s davenport designed by Bevan and made by Marsh and Jones (figure 1), was illustrated in The Building News and Engineering Journal (1865) and described as “creditable in both design and workmanship. Even apart from the ornament, the general outlines are appropriate and pleasing, and comfort seems to be…fully attended to.”2
One of Bevan’s most notable commissions by Marsh & Jones was a suite of furniture for industrialist Titus Salt for which they provided seating furniture, a washstand and pedestal cupboard, dressing table, and an impressive grand piano designed by Bevan and illustrated in the The Building News, 1 March 1867 (figure 2), the ornament of which can be compared to the present chairs.
Bevan’s work is “remarkable not only for its fine quality but also for its simplicity…it does not look dated in any way yet it has much character of its own—no small tribute to Bevan’s achievement as a reformer.”3
2. The Building News and Engineering Journal, Volume 12. London: Office for Publication and Advertisements, 1865. 183.
3. Boynton, L. O. J. “HIGH VICTORIAN FURNITURE: THE EXAMPLE OF MARSH AND JONES OF LEEDS.” Furniture History, vol. 3, 1967, pp. 54–91. 60.