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The three-dimensional contouring of the Mallett chair arms and uprights was a difficult, time consuming and therefore expensive feature involving the creation of the „S‟-shaped profile from a much larger, solid block of mahogany. In common with the ancient Greek klismos chairs the top-rail of the Trafalgar Chair was made to extend over the uprights. The Regency design was also sometimes embellished with a small rear facing scrolled edge to the top of the rail. Although the depth of the curve varies slightly, most of the top-rails in the sample share the same basic design (Figure 24b). Once again the Mallett chair breaks from the standard pattern to present a more „regal‟ interpretation of the design. In this instance the chair-maker has replaced the tablet top-rail with an out-scrolled stuffed leather bolster. All of the designs make use of a small pedestal to separate the voluted arms of the chair from the side-rails. Most designs are based on a cube with two concave sides to lighten the appearance of the support when the chair is viewed from the side. In keeping with the quality of the Mallett chair, these pedestals are in the form of spheres (Figure 24b). The design of most chairs in the sample follow the standard Trafalgar Chair form with sabre-shaped legs, a curved-over knee and a concave top-rail. There appears to be little significance in the design of the front-rail and this most probably reflected the choice of the customer. The introduction of an over-scrolled top-rail and other labour-intensive and therefore expensive features, could indicate that the chair was destined for a more grand location although the tendency to over- ornament a chair may also indicate a later period.64


7.1.3 Decoration


The neo-classical motifs of the Regency also extended to the surface decoration. Fluting, which represented the surface finish of ancient Greek columns, was gradually replaced by reeding as the preferred surface decoration and by 1803, Sheraton was advocating reeding as „preferable to fluting or cabling in point of strength; and in look, much superior to the latter; and almost equal to the former‟ (Sheraton, 1970, p. 296). In the same section of The Dictionary Sheraton went even further by specifying the need for an odd number of reeds with the „odd one in the centre‟ of the pattern. Four of the six chairs have a reeded front-rail. The Butchoff chair has a plain panelled front-rail but this could be a simple adaptation of a standard design. Unlike the other examples, the marked Gillows chair has no reeded


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