Chair designed by A H Mackmurdo, England

Chair designed by A H Mackmurdo, England

Chair
A H Mackmurdo (1851 - 1942)
Made by Colinson and Lock
London, England
1883
Carved and painted mahogany, leather upholstery
Museum no. W. 29-1982

A.H. Mackmurdo designed this chair in 1881. It was produced in the following year by his newly formed Century Guild, the first of those loose associations of craftsworkers mentioned above. The flowing swirling pattern in the back precedes Art Nouveau design by more than ten years. The difference is that, flame-like and contorted though this pattern may be, it is a decorative panel set in a rather simple chair in an eighteenth-century style. In an Art Nouveau chair, the whole frame would have writhed in sympathy with its back.

Art Nouveau design is remarkable for the way in which the pattern explores, describes and envelops the total structure. Where Arts and Crafts use flower patterns in surface decoration, Art Nouveau make decorative use of the whole plant.