The Regency Period Metamorphic Library Chair

The Regency Period Metamorphic Library Chair

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Publisher's Description

Tables, chairs and stools containing Library Steps were patented in Great Britain by Robert Campbell in 1774 but the chair-based design did not become popular until the second decade of the nineteenth century. It was during the first six months of the Regency that a neo-classical interpretation of Campbell’s idea, known as the Metamorphic Library Chair, first appeared in London. Despite the success of the chair, little has been written on the subject and attribution relies heavily on two nineteenth century sketches. The first illustration, by Rudolph Ackermann in 1811, shows a Morgan & Sanders chair and the second was drawn twenty-three years later for a Gillows estimate in 1834. The lack of detail in these sketches and the scarcity of information relating to Regency period metamorphic furniture, have led to many inaccurate claims. The story of the Metamorphic Library Chair provides an interesting example of how discovery, design and fashion-driven demand led to Georgian furniture innovation. The dissertation identifies the origins of the chair and it examines the circumstances that led to a fascination with mechanical curiosities and dual-purpose furniture during the Regency. The dissertation also presents new insights into the reactions of the cabinet-makers as metamorphic furniture became popular and the competition intensified. This is the first thorough investigation into the Regency period Metamorphic Library Chair – a topic that has so far been neglected and one that is of interest to historians, collectors and those dealing in antique furniture. It is hoped that the dissertation will help to improve the identification and cataloguing of such an important and symbolic representation of the Regency Style.

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