An Exceptional Partial Suite of China Trade Hardwood Furniture
Comprising a sofa with heavily-carved acanthus cabriole legs terminating in lingzhi-shaped club feet, a carved apron, scrolled arms and an elaborate crest carved with grapevines entwining openwork scrolling lattice; a large armchair with oval back rest, elaborately carved square-section arms and legs adorned with acanthus leaves and a scrolling openwork crest; and six side chairs with tapering reeded legs terminating in casters; all upholstered in red leather. Height of sofa 39 inches (99 cm), length 78 inches (198 cm), depth of seat 29 inches (73.7 cm); height of armchair 46 inches (116.9 cm), width 29 inches (73.7 cm), depth of seat 21 inches (53.3 cm); height of side chair 43 inches (109.2 cm), width 20 inches (50.8 cm), depth 15 inches (38 cm).
Property of an American Family, Acquired in Shrewsbury, England in 1967, and thence by descent.
Furniture attributed to a commissioned suite of furniture made for Captain Robert Bennet Forbes (1804-1889) of Massachusetts. Forbes' career in the China merchant trade began at the age of thirteen. By his 21st year, he was the captain of his own ship and in the 1830s a stakeholder in the largest American trading firm in China. Throughout his long career, Forbes remained active in the merchant trade and in shipbuilding, supplying warships to the Union Navy during the American Civil War. The Forbes House Museum in Milton, MA is the home Forbes and his brother Captain John Murray Forbes built for their mother in 1833. Today, it is open to the public and houses, among other collections, a gallery of China Trade art and furniture from the Forbes family collection. An identical armchair and sofa of very similar style remain on view in the Forbes House Museum.
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