11160 A VERY RARE SET OF EIGHT “SUMMER HOUSE” CHAIRS IN THE MANNER OF ROBERT MANWARING, COMPRISING TWO ARMCHAIRS AND SIX SINGLES, RETAINING THEIR ORIGINAL RUSH SEATS English. Second Half Of The Eighteenth Century; Three Chairs Of A Later Date. Measurments: Approximately: Height: 35 1/2″ (90cm) Width: 15 3/4″ (40cm) Depth: 15 3/4″ (40cm).

Of painted wood branches. Each with a toprail and backrest comprised of asymmetrical winding, knotted twigs. The seatrail and legs joined by stretchers similarly conceived, supporting a rush seat. The armrests extending from the tops of the uprights and meeting the front of the seatrail, also made of branches. Comprising two carvers and six singles. Three chairs made to match at a later date. Three paint layers exist below the very old brown top coat.

Five 18th century chairs sold at Christie’s London, 31 May 1984, Lot 47, Property of a Nobleman
Stanley Seeger, Deanery Garden, Sonning, UK
Colefax & Fowler, London
A Garrison, New York Collection

The present set of chairs is a very rare survival of eighteenth century “rustic” or “forest” furniture, that is, garden furniture constructed from actual tree branches, roots and twigs for use outdoors. Made of woods “susceptible to the ravages of woodworm, time, and the English climate,”1 very few examples survive today and therefore evidence of the production of these types of furnishings comes almost entirely from inventories and illustrations of the period. The use of rush seats on the present chairs is possibly unique and, according to Kate Hay of the furniture department at the Victoria & Albert Museum, indicates that the chairs would have been used in a garden building that provided protection from the elements, or were at least stored under cover between use. In any event, the seats are a costly and sophisticated addition to the bucolic impression.


  1. Dorge, Valerie, and F C. Howlett. Painted Wood: History & Conservation. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 1998. 128.

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