Six Chairs


Sometimes I have the feeling that a chair I see has some sort of strong connection with a particular time of year, a season or a specific month.

Wing chairs and December, for example. Surely, there can hardly be a closer affinity. In times gone by the wing chair was a staunch ally against cold draughts as the wind raged outside, and a welcome support for drowsy heads in the dark depths of winter. And then there’s the plush-covered Rococo Revival armchair, keeping us affable and alert as we enjoy afternoon tea and biscuits, served in February when brighter days are returning.

No one could deny that the cheerful smile of an eighteenth-century ladderback – sometimes called a “laughing chair” in Sweden – evokes the sensation of summer, as does the garden chair that keeps it company, with its over-exuberant leafy ornamentation on the backrest.

A Gustavian Lindome chair from around 1800, here painted almond green in accordance with the owners’ wishes and dressed in a pretty summer fabric, is also totally at home in the sunny summer setting of what the astrologers know as “Leo season”.

And to conclude this brief cavalcade through three centuries of history there is no better representative than this eighteenth-century Rococo chair with arms. Surely, there can be little it has not seen and experienced in its long life, so it has a given place as an autumn chair, with the astrological sign of Libra, the scales, as a kind of mystical mentor.

Astronomical clocks are fascinating things. You’ll often find them attracting a little knot of curious onlookers or surrounded by a large crowd of spectators, staring at them in wonder and admiration. Sometimes perhaps in the company of a well-informed guide, who is able to explain their intricacies.

Here on the left is the astronomical clock in Prague and on the right the astronomical in Ulm, Germany

The astronomical clock in Prague on the façade of the Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square has always been a magnet for visitors to the city. One summer day many years ago a man brought a chair out onto the town square and sat there facing the clock, deep in thought. As I recall, it was one of those old folding garden chairs. Maybe he had borrowed it from a nearby café. The scene has etched itself into my memory: man, chair and clock. Or, if you will, Creator, Construction and Conclusion.

These six indispensable “constructions”, old and new, are now placed at a suitably astronomical height, to give them and all the other fine old chairs in the world the respect and attention of which they are so deserving.

By Gun Bjerkander Handberg

Note From Editor:

Exciting news from the Please Be Seated Historic Chair blogging team. We have decided to document our blog and a selection of tales in a new Please Be Seated Anthology of Historic Chairs. Currently we are working along side the author on the final edits and image selection and soon we will go into print production.
For many of you who follow the blog or have already one of the three books written by Gun Bjerkander Handberg from the Please Be Seated Historic Chairs trilogy this will be an opportunity to savour over more than 30 blog tales in print. Stay tuned for more news of the launch after the summer.

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