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Kelmscott: Exoticism and a Philip Webb Chair

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2011


The evidence is here reviewed from which to conclude that a chair now at Kelmscott Manor was designed by Philip Webb and exhibited in the Mediaeval Court at the 1862 International Exhibition in London, despite the fact that it has nothing stylistically medieval about it. Analysis of the design does, however, suggest the assimilation of older Egyptian and Japanese ideas and thus that the chair in 1862 was considered derivative.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society of Antiquaries of London 1986

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1 For the illustrations (apart from pl. xxva) wraps of modern gilded paper were lodged, without adhesives, on the struts to suggest the original appearance of the chair. The back-drop is an original Morris & Co. textile, ‘Tulip’, designed by Morris, registered 15th April 1875 and block-printed on cotton by Thomas Wardle at Leek.

2 Last known in the possession of Harold Rathbone, founder of the ‘Delia Robbia’ Pottery at Birkenhead.

3 Serge was the material preferred by Morris in the early days of the firm; it was then difficult to obtain.

4 The page with the sketch is not dated, but the manner in which the subsequent annual balances are shown indicates that the double-page spread applies to one year, here 1861–2.