Antique Gondola Chairs
A gondola chair is characterised by having a C-shaped or concave back, with sides or arms that continuously slope down towards the seat.
History & Description
Developed in France during the Louis XV era around 1760, the gondola chair style is typical of the Greek Revival, Regency and Neo-classical styles that were dominating the art and design scene in the late-eighteenth century through to the first half of the nineteenth century.
The gondola chair was a specialised style of chair reminiscent of this period, in which the concept of furniture took on a more versatile and comfortable role. Furniture, such as the gondola chair, instead of being connected to the wall, was now freestanding and possessed more cushioning and back supports.
Guide to collectors
While antique gondola chairs are popular items for furniture collectors, they are very rarely sold by international auctioneers or online antique dealers.
In the past, Sotheby’s and Bonhams have sold a limited number of antique gondola chairs and, with the exception of a pair of early-nineteenth Morel & Seddon gondola chairs selling for $11,250 in September 20111, as a general rule, antique gondola chairs are priced around $1,000.
Perhaps the most desirable style of antique gondola chairs for collectors is the Venetian style. Produced in the early-nineteenth century, they are characterised by splayed legs that curve away from the body of the chair.
In March 2012, at Christie’s in London, three lots featuring gondola chairs were advertised with pre-sales estimates from £1,000 to £8,000.
In March 2011 at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, a Venetian mid-nineteenth century gondola chair, with an upholstered back and seat on scrolled supports and decorated with flowers and scrolls, realised a price of £1,440.
In February 2011, an eighteenth/nineteenth century Venetian child’s gondola chair, with a buttoned leather upholstered seat and painted with flowers and ribbons, realised a price of £1,080 through Bonhams, Knightsbridge.
In September 2011, a pair of George IV white-painted and parcel-gilt gondola chairs, made around 1825 and in the manner of Morel & Seddon, realised a price of $11,250 through Sotheby’s, New York.