With our absolute highest compliments Bay Colony Antiques takes the utmost pleasure in offering this spectacular and rare set of six antique Arts & Crafts dining chairs. In the past forty years we have encountered only a few sets of matched dining chairs from the Arts & Crafts period without a prominent signature which could hope to rival the sophistication and scarcity of the dining chairs we now presently offer. While these chairs are clearly a product of the Arts & Crafts period they also possess strong attributes unique to the Art Nouveau design movement. The chair frames favor a tapered lateral form with the width of each chair narrowing as the sides approach the crest rails. This deliberate design choice is reminiscent of decorative art items inspired by the Eiffel Tower during the last decade of the 19th century and it is our belief that the influence on the form is directly related to the architectural wonder. Each of the curving crest rails are inlaid with three elaborate stylized tulip motifs that are each inset into the wooden frame and comprised of varying fruitwoods. This marquetry inlay work is some of the absolute best we have ever found on furniture produced during the Arts & Crafts movement. Beneath each crest rail is a finely upholstered leather back rest situated just above three vertical splats with bulbous stylizations deliberately chosen to enhance the art nouveau influence over the design.
The chair frames are very sturdy and perfectly suited for generations of continual use. Each of the chairs has a trapezoidal seat frame with an inset leather seat that is original and in fine condition. We do note some small repairs and tight spots with minimal distress which is to be expected from any leather chair seat over a century old. The chairs are completed with splayed rear legs, double stretcher supports, and tapering front legs ending on Macmurdo formed feet. The presence of the flaring stylized chair feet, named for the influential English architect and designer Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, is perhaps our best clue as to which firm produced these chairs without a clear and distinguishable label. Our attempts to compare the inlay work to other known Arts & Crafts period items have been in vain as these chairs appear to be without any similarly styled works which we have access to for comparison. We are leaving open the possibility that an English firm produced these chairs very close to the turn of the 20th century as the influence of the art nouveau aesthetic design is a precursor for the larger movement that swept through the world a generation later. The arts & crafts movement took hold a generation prior to the art nouveau period and while very scarce there are examples in museums and institutions exhibiting rare design variations which would be adapted into the greater Art Nouveau movement. The grade of white oak used to build these chairs is more common among American furniture makers working in the Arts & Crafts style such as Limbert, Stickley, Harden, Roycroft, & Harvey Ellis among other famous and influential designers. While we certainly would like to make an attribution as to which shop produced these marvelous chairs we are still searching through a century worth of antique periodicals and reference materials to find the most accurate designation possible. We have conservatively priced these chairs for $800 per chair which is a bargain compared to what lesser known examples routinely sell for all across the country. We do hope to find a suitable and worthy home for these chairs but we also cherish them ourselves and will only sell them when we feel the moment is right to do so. Our catalogue always benefits from having unique, rare, and outstanding examples from all major design periods and we cannot expect to find a better set of six chairs than these anytime in the near future. The chairs measure 17 1/2" wide x 18 1/2" deep x 42" tall with an 18" seat height.