Musée d'Orsay: Edward Welby Pugin Chair

Edward Welby Pugin

Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875)
Between 1861 and 1866
Carved walnut, beech seat with oak additions and brass castors
H. 86; W. 51; D. 81 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski


Chaise [Chair]

Fortunately saved from demolition in 1963, Scarisbrick Hall in Lancashire, is a superb example of a romantic English hall incorporating many elements of ancient art, thanks to two of the most ardent champions of the Gothic Revival: Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852) and his son Edward Welby Pugin.
At first the works were directed by Augustus between 1836 and 1845. They were then continued by Edward from 1861, when Lady Ann Scarisbrick inherited the estate on the death of her brother Charles. So it is more to Edward Pugin that Scarisbrick Hall owes the richness of its opulent Gothic style decoration. We no longer have a complete picture of the furnishings as they were dispersed in a number of sales after 1923. This chair, easily identified by the monograms, is a rare example. The Musée d'Orsay has two of them.

Designed by Edward Pugin, the chair nonetheless owes much to the work of his father. The idea of adapting this type of ancient cross frame chair with curved legs in fact came from Augustus Pugin. It was in a work by Willemin, Monuments français inédits pour servir à l'Histoire des Arts depuis le VIe siècle... (1806-1839), that he found the model, taken from medieval manuscripts. Furthermore, the generous proportions, the curve of the seat and the rather light crosspiece give it a majesty that recalls Prince Albert's throne in the House of Lords, also designed by Augustus Pugin.

The original upholstery was probably in leather. But fragments of a piece of fabric in floral damask – again taken from fabric pattern by his father– still survived in places. The modern upholstery is therefore copied from this damask.

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