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Armchair (nineteenth century)

CRE UNKNOWN This armchair formed part of a group of furniture from the Whistler estate bequeathed by the artist's sister-in-law, Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip, in 1958. It is not always certain whether the pieces of furniture she bequeathed had been owned by Whistler or were part of the Philip family collection. Whistler took great care over the decoration of his successive homes, favouring sparsely furnished interiors painted in plain harmonious colours. . One visitor to the Whistlers' Paris home, Arthur Eddy, recorded that their reception room was "simple dignified, harmonious...it was restful and charming, to the last degree... The floor was covered with a coarse dark-blue matting; the panelled walls were in pure white and blue, while the ceiling was in a light shade of blue...The few pieces of furniture were of an old pattern, graceful almost to fragility and covered with some light stuff which harmonised with the tone of the walls." (Arthur Eddy 1903, 'Recollections and Impressions of James A. McNeill Whistler', J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and London, pp 220-221) While he also created interior schemes for others, William Alexander at Aubrey House, and the Leylands' London home, no furniture designs by him are known. The pieces he acquired for his own use show a preference for English and French furniture of the 18th and 19th centuries. This chair was recovered with replica silk in 1984; the original covering is in store.
Birnie Philip Bequest, 1958.