Fine pair 18th-century carved library armchairs Robert Manwaring


A fine pair of mid-eighteenth century carved mahogany library armchairs in the manner of Robert Manwaring, ca 1760.

H 39’’ (99 cm)
W 25’’ (64 cm)
D 22’’ (57 cm)

BHA 12591184

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A fine pair of mid-eighteenth century carved mahogany library armchairs in the manner of Robert Manwaring, ca 1760.

Crisply carved, of superb colour and patination throughout. Now covered in fine velvet and close nailed. ‘Chinese’ pierced trellis back. Very good movement through the arm. And well carved with foliate detail.  Incidentally we have never had a pair of these during the last 66 years.

An almost identical chair is illustrated by Ralph Edwards C.B.E., F.S.A. in his seminal and comprehensive Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture from the Middle Ages to the Late Georgian Period (1969) p.150, ill. 128: ”Mahogany chair, one of a set; back filled with ‘Chinese Railings’ c 1760.” (The late Lt-Col. S. Goldschmidt).

Robert Manwaring was a contemporary and imitator of Thomas Chippendale, and not the least considerable of his rivals. He prided himself upon work which he described as “genteel”; his speciality was chairs. He was in business in the mid- to late-18th century at The Haymarket in London, 1760-1765.

During a phase of his career, Manwaring was a devotee of the Chinese taste. He also practised in the Gothic manner.

Manwaring described certain products of his own work as “elegant and superb”, and as possessing “grandeur and magnificence”. He did not confine himself to furniture but produced many designs for rustic gates and railings; often very extravagant.


Amongst Manwaring’s writings were The Carpenters’ Compleat Guide to Gothic Railing (1765); and Chair-makers’ Guide (1766).

Vis. ‘Chinese Chairs’ in The cabinet and Chair-Maker’s Real Friend and Companion, or, the Whole System of Chair-making Made plain and easy, plate 10 [sic] London.

See Beard and Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, 1986, p. 573. We know about a suite of furniture of at least eight armchairs from Treworgey Manor, near Liskeard, Cornwall. Furthermore four chairs in the collection of the Leeds City Art Galleries at Temple Newsam House, which have been extensively published, including a full history of the suite in Christopher Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, 1978, vol. I, p. 84, no. 69. A chair from Temple Newsam was exhibited at ‘The British Antique Dealers’ Association Golden Jubilee Exhibition’, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, May 1968, no. 44, pl. 105 in the catalogue. Another pair was sold in Sotheby’s New York, April 16, 1998, lot 804 (US $90,000).

See an armchair in Macquoid and Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. I (1927) p. 285, fig. 126, and sold, Parke-Bernet Galleries, The Walter P. Chrysler Jr Collection of English Furniture, May 6-7, 1960, part II, lot 371.

Further references:

Robert Manwaring – Wikipedia –