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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
Attributed to JOHN LINNELL
English, 1729 - 1796
c. 1770
Beech, gilding, and upholstery (not original)

39 1/4 x 26 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Arch and Stella Rowan Foundation, Inc.

Arts of Europe

This 18th-century gilded armchair was likely designed as part of a larger suite of furniture intended for a salon or formal drawing room. Every surface of the generously scaled Neoclassical chair features sophisticated carving, except the back. Because such pieces were made to stand against the wall, and brought forward only when required, designers and their clients felt no need to decorate a section that would seldom be seen.

Although this work is unsigned, the chair's proportions, angled seat back, and arms ending in ball motifs are all characteristic of the furniture made in the workshop of John Linnell, one of London’s most accomplished late-18th-century designers. He was among the first English furniture makers to be educated in design, having studied at St. Martin's Lane Academy, founded by painter William Hogarth. Linnell worked closely with the premier architect of the day, Robert Adam, and Linnell's close competitor in the trade was Thomas Chippendale.