Among the more remarkable lots sold outside London this season are a set of six 17th century painted leather chair backs (one shown) sold by Gardiner Houlgate on November 12-13. Discovered by the vendor in a box lot at a West Country sale, each of the six elements were decorated (probably domestically rather than professionally) in oil-based paint with secular figures, flora and fauna in a manner reminiscent of 1660s stumpwork.
The Bath auctioneers contacted a number of potential institutional buyers and this pre-sale marketing paid handsomely when the V&A took the decision to bid. They were ‘saved for the nation’ close to the reserve at £2200 (plus 15% buyer’s premium).
Lucy Wood, senior curator in the furniture, textiles and fashion department at the V&A described the covers as a unique survival – “an extraordinarily rare example of something we did not know
happened” – and said in future they will form part of new galleries devoted to materials and techniques used in furniture making.
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