Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Regency armchair in the Egyptian style

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Loretta reports:

Some people have an idea of Regency style as one of pale colors and classical influences.  This is true to a point.  It’s also true that they loved decorating with bright colors (red and green were big) and weren’t shy about mixing in some (or a lot of) Gothic, Chinese, or Egyptian design elements.

In London there was a place called the Egyptian Hall, (for more images, please see my Pinterest page, the board for Lord Perfect), and in houses of the well-to-do one might see sofas, chairs, and other furniture boasting hieroglyphs that made no sense, Sphinxes, cobras, pyramids, Eyes of Horus, Egyptian gods and goddesses, pharaohs, and so on.

The style first became popular early in the 19th C.  Designers and architects got inspiration partly from Dominique Vivant Denon’s 1803 publication, Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt: during the campaigns of General Bonaparte and, between 1809 and 1829, the monumental Description de l’Egypte.*

The armchair, from the V&A museum,** is one of a set based on M. Denon’s designs (and might have been his property at some point).  I thought it would make a suitable illustration for this quotation from Mary Russell Mitford’s Our Village—which would in turn describe the Royal Pavilion at Brighton pretty well, too.
Every room is in masquerade: the saloon Chinese, full of jars and mandarins and pagodas; the library Egyptian, all covered with hieroglyphics, and swarming with furniture crocodiles and sphynxes. Only think of a crocodile couch, and a sphynx sofa! They sleep in Turkish tents, and dine in a Gothic chapel. *

*You can buy your own mini version of this work online, if you, too, are an ancient Egypt geek (see my previous posts, here, here, and here).

**Note that the upholstery is modern.  I'm not wild about the color.  Definitely not Regency.  What color do you imagine was used originally?


mark said...

style is so nice thanks for sharing

see more

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Agree, the blue seems a bit too...tasteful. My guess would be for something more intense, like the red on this council chair from Carlton House (from our Pinterest boards):

GSGreatEscaper said...

how about a lovely red and gold stripe?

greg6833 said...

I wonder if it might have been a dark brown or hunter green leather or maybe even tweed. Beautiful chair!

Anonymous said...

Eau de Nile, of course!

Hels said...

Despite a general loathing for Napoleon, I don't think British furniture designers would have created works in the Egyptian taste, had it not been for Denon's book in 1803. How funny that politics and aesthetics can be separated so nicely!

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