Regency Bergère Library Armchair
Under the heading Fashionable Furniture in the popular the magazine of the early nineteenth century, Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, appear two library chairs. These are described by the author as “two of the most convenient and comfortable chairs perhaps ever completed.” One of two the chairs in question is a Bergère Library Armchair, on the left of the illustration below. Bergère armchairs were noted for their utility as they regularly featured ‘arms’ to hold a small movable desk and a candlestick. Each piece, Ackermann suggests, “has become a favourite piece of furniture for the library, boudoir and other apartments.”
Domestic Libraries of the period were not only rooms for study. They were often used as the family sitting room and, together with the Drawing Room, formed the most important reception rooms in the house. Architectural critics of the period, John Claudius Loudon and Robert Kerr recommended that both rooms were conjoined so they could be “thrown together” to accommodate more guests on celebratory occasions. This was the case at Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, where “if dancing or a musical party be in contemplation, we have only to open the door between the drawing room and the library in order to obtain all the space necessary for the purpose.” The library’s furniture necessarily reflected its uses and usually included numerous chairs, armchairs, stools, settees and sofas as well as desks and tables for study and games and socialising.
The Bergère chair in the showrooms of Reindeer Antiques is a fine example of a Regency armchair. With its mahogany frame, reeded downswept arms, and turned and reeded legs on the original brass castors, it is an elegant example of library furniture of the period. Its caned back and seat are upholstered with cushions in a dark blue/green fabric with a contrasting geometric pattern. Though the writing desk and candlestick have not survived, the armchair remains a stunning piece of furniture and is, in Ackermann’s words, “completely comfortable.”
Randolph Ackermann, ‘Fashionable Furniture’, in Repository of Arts, July 1810.
Robert Kerr, The Gentleman's House (London: John Murray, 1864).
Monica Maxwell Scott, ‘Gabions of Abbotsford, a Hitherto Unpublished Fragment by Sir Walter Scott’, in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, December 1888 to May 1889 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1889).