The chair in the open air
Socialising has not been without its problems this summer, a time when most things have revolved around the corona virus and the need for social distancing.
This sorry state of affairs has even had an impact on the chairs you want to spend time with. If they’re cooped up indoors together with the rest of their family, you need to move them out into the open air.
This handsome chair from some time around 1800 was originally created by one of the many skilful cabinet makers in Lindome. It was repainted in the second half of the nineteenth century but, as the black paint is now itself an indication of antique status, I feel it ought to be left just as it is.
While Stockholm’s cabinet makers began to draw their inspiration from France at an early stage, in Lindome, on Sweden’s west coast, the main source of inspiration was England. Of course, people were inspired by one another as well, and so it can often be hard to tell whether a particular chair was made in Stockholm or in Lindome. However, perhaps it’s fair to claim that Gustavian chairs that feature a carved sprig of hops on the crest rail probably have their origins in Lindome. These so called provincial chairs are of high quality and soon grew to become very popular. Just imagine ordering a chair and being able to decide what the finished product was going to look like. At least in most essentials. A plain crest rail, or one decorated with a sprig of hops. Crossed spindles in the back splat, or maybe a sheaf-back where the rods meet in a stylised floral boss. Ladderbacks were popular, too, as were the so called “nollstolar” that took their Swedish name from the five “O”-shaped rings that typically formed part of the backrest. And then there was the Gunnebo backrest, named for the chairs in Gunnebo House, a stately home on the outskirts of Gothenburg.
The cabinet makers of Lindome could choose to work with a wide selection of different woods: alder, elm, birch, maple, larch, pine, willow, poplar and cherry to name but a few. They also had access to timbers from abroad, as the proximity of their workshops to the port of Gothenburg ensured affordable prices for beach wrecks and planks from sugar casks.
It’s tempting to fantasise about times gone by. I’ve just conjured up in my mind an image of a man by the name of Anders. Born in 1793, he was my grandfather’s grandfather and, for a time, a travelling journeyman, both in Sweden and beyond. Perhaps Anders came across one or more chairs from Lindome during his travels, before he became an acknowledged master. It is by no means impossible, as craftsmen such as he worked and lodged with various master cabinet makers.
But it’s time now to return to the sheaf-back chair on the lawn with its egg-and-dart decoration around the rail and back, and that delightful little carved sprig of hops on the crest to top it all off. Surely, a joy to behold. And there are two of them!
Gun Bjerkander Handberg
Note from the Editor:
This is the third book in the Please Be Seated series and features 21 historic chairs from around the globe.
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