Called David Garrick's chair from the Drury Lane Theatre
Painted and varnished with embroidered cushion
"DG" (embroidered on the cushion four times with Garrick's coat of arms)
Presented to the Garrick Club by the representatives of the late Mrs Walters (of Ware Priory, Herts. and by whom the Garrick Coat of arms was worked on the seat) as a memento of the late Robert Walters Esq., 1913
This is perhaps the most striking piece of furniture in the Garrick Club collection. Garrick is well known for his penchant for painted furniture and his commissions from Thomas Chippendale in about 1770 are among the most adventurous and outré taste of the day. The famous set of furniture in the Victoria and Albert Museum is all of pine with green chinoiseries on a white background. This chair, which is said to have come from the Drury Lane Theatre, is of Chippendale type, decorated in Chinese red with black stipling and gold lining in the form of exotic fish. However it was not until 1790 that painted furniture became commonly accepted, and any chair that may have occupied Garrick's box in the theatre, or indeed been anywhere in the theatre, would have been destroyedd in the catastrophic fire of 1809. However from plans of the replacement theatre held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, we know this also contained a Garrick box as it was required for his widow Eva Maria who we know attended thee theatre regularly right up to her death in 1822. This box would have necessitated new chairs, which might go some way to explaining the Regency style of this chair.
The cushion was restored in 1963 in preparation for the centenary of the Garrick Street Club House the following year. In 1966 a gouache drawing of the restored cushion was made and a photograph of this is preserved in the archive of the Club. At the same time research was undertaken by Sir Donald Wolfit, who corresponded with the College of Arms regarding the accuracy of the sushion design. However they had no record of them but made the suggestion that they were French. The arms correspond with those communicated toJjames Winston, first Secretary of the Garrick Club in a letter dated Noveember 30 1831, from William Woods at the Heralds College. This letter is now in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC (Y.c. 48). They also match the arms depicted impaled with a the ramapnat stag of Mrs Garrick that were used on escutcheons at David Garrick's funeral, an example of which survives painted on silk in the Mander & Mitchenson Theatre Collection, University of Bristol Theatre Collection.