Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
Set of four armchairs
Each upholstered in yellow silk, the framework carved and pierced with fret patterns; the rectangular back with canted top corners and seated chinaman cresting, the arm supports terminating in eagle heads; tapering legs entwined with serpents
The chairs are an extraordinary feat of engineering, the frames being hollowed out to provide an impression of delicacy, weightlessness and exoticism. They were important elements in one of the Prince of Wales's early furnishing schemes at Carlton House, the Chinese Drawing Room, designs for which were published by Thomas Sheraton in 1792. François Hervé was one of a band of émigré French craftsmen employed at Carlton House under the direction of the talented (French) marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre and the British architect Henry Holland. The restrained French-inspired neo-classical interiors created there before the end of the eighteenth-century were renowned for their elegance and chaste beauty.
Supplied by Francois Hervé for the Chinese Room Basement Floor, Carlton House in 1790 at a cost of £239 8s, the seated mandarin figures added by him in 1792; originally gilded by Sefferin Nelson for £90, upholstered by Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell (upholsterer)