Origin: Spanish Period: Early Eighteenth Century Provenance: Unknown Date: c.1720 and later Varying Sizes, though Typically: Single: 18 inches Wide x 15.5 inches Deep x 37.5 inches high Carver: 24.5 inches Wide x 20.5 inches Deep x 39.5 inches high
The set of eight 18th century Spanish walnut baroque period ‘armada’ dining chairs comprising four single chairs, and four as carver armchairs, with studded leather backs and seats, some floral embossed, standing on square section legs united with stretchers, some with shaped carved friezes.
The chairs have clearly seen an awful lot in their long years and it does show though this is part of their huge appeal. As such there are losses, crude and primitive (but charming) old repairs and replacements to leather work, some splits and cracks, some old woodworm damage, scuffing, staining and scratching, and general overall wear with some feet re-tipped. Some are slightly older than others with iron studwork dating to around c.1700 with the others being more of a mid seventeenth century period showing brass studwork. All the chairs have a wonderful colour and deep patination to their walnut frames.
Imagine a line up of colourful war criminals of the same family, with the scars of battle, and you are some way to understanding the make up of this octet. They have probably seen things in 18thC Spain that you or I would not dare dream of. This is not to deny that they are of considerable quality, with a gorgeous mellow patina to the walnut and a softness to the leather, and one can happily sit in each without fear of toppling over; they are sturdy and comfortable.
At its most extravagant, Spanish Baroque seemed to be trying to rival and outdo even the more extreme interpretations found in the rest of Europe. The style employed architectural features and the human figure in the emotional, eccentric style known as Churrigueresque, after the chief practitioner of this fantastic manner, Don Jose Churriguera (d.1725). It was as if the style was a last defiant gesture by a dying empire. During the reigns of Philip III (1596 - 1621), Philip IV (1621 - 1665) and Charles II (1665 - 1700), Spain was growing both poorer and politically weaker. Nevertheless Spanish society seemed determined to keep up appearances, and as always, handmade furniture was one of the main props in the drama.
Not for those who favour the uniform these chairs are wonderful eccentric examples of fine Spanish colonial craftsmanship and have seen more than one type of claret spilt; brilliantly bold, bloody superb.