For sale is a beautiful late 19th Century ‘Victorian-type' Darvel high comb-backed Windsor chair c. 1890-1903 attributed to Hugh Shields / Hugh Shields Jnr.
This Scottish vernacular chair is characteristic of the maker 'Hugh Shields & Son' (of the same name) likely around 1881-1903 from their premises in Newmilns, The Irvine Valley. Hugh Shields was one of a small number of known makers of Irvine valley Windsor chairs in Newmilns, the next village to the west of Darvel. He trained with John McMath and developed his chair design, becoming a specialist in elaborate turnings of a very precise execution as shown in the design of this particular chair. This chair has some lovely details:
- The elaborate / bold turning detail to the arm bow terminal support spindles, legs and H-stretchers were later Victorian precise additions to the decoration of these vernacular chairs and utilised by Hugh Shields & Son (Hugh Shields Jnr) up to circa 1903.
- A curved Ash arm bow with end finials and constructed from two pieces meeting in an overlapping scarf joint
- Darvel chairs have a very comfortable, raked and enclosed comb design with strong / heavy and robust construction
- This chair has 10 high back spindles indicating a later Victorian chair with the fashionable elaborate turnings and a warm honey/orange shellac as noted (Hunter, 2001)
- Large D-shaped seat slab of thick birch (likely imported American birch) into which the legs and all spindles socket (not through)
- The seat is contoured to the front for knee comfort and the rear is supported by the splayed rear legs
- The late Victorian turned legs seen on this style of Darvel chair from Hugh Shields have the most elaborate and precise legs and stretcher. The legs having a 3-section decorative section towards the feet/end.
*This chair is notable in that it is a very similar design combination of top rail design, elaborate terminus spindles to the arm bow, stretcher and elaborate decoration to the legs along with the splayed nature of the rear legs as show in Cotton (2008) on page 205.
- Slight evidence of historic woodworm in the seat slab, but of no consequence or notable damage beyond age-related wear and tear from c.120-40 years
A beautiful design, executed in a robust and comfortable manner due to the raked stance ready for its next 100 years of utility.
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