Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, was educated at Dulwich College and was a prolific architect- designer within the Arts and Crafts movement. An undistinguished academic at college, Voysey later claimed he became an architect because it was 'the only profession for which one did not need to pass any examinations'. Beginning his career in 1881, he first established himself as a designer of furniture, textiles and wallpapers. Winning his first building commissions in 1890, he quickly earned a reputation of being a master of artistic cottages and modern country houses.
He paid meticulous attention to detail, designing every aspect of a project, down to the door hinges. Voysey regularly exhibited watercolour elevations of his building projects, furniture and decorative designs at the Royal Academy, and is celebrated today as one of the leading British designers of the turn of the 20th century.
A pair of rare Arts and Crafts oak armchairs,
by C F A Voysey (1857-1941), c.1902, each with leather and studded drop-in seats,
The simple design, personified by a heart motif on the back of a chair, is one of Voysey’s best known furniture designs. F C Nielsen, who made other furniture that Voysey designed, made these chairs from 1902, in differing proportions. One telltale detail is the dovetail construction fixing the splat to the frame. Versions of this chair can be seen in major collections around the world with leather and rush drop-in seats.
Voysey had a limited number of designs that he used, but in many of his schemes for interiors, this model appears often - his mantra was for furniture with a ‘sense of proportion and puritanical love of simplicity’.
Few of these chairs have come on the market over the last ten years, the most recent a pair of single chairs without arms, which sold in March this year for £16,500.
No doubt, this pair are the exemplar of the Arts and Crafts tradition and rarer still to be found together after all this time. Examples of this chair can be seen in The Homestead, built for the General Manager of the Essex and Suffolk Equitable Insurance Society, whose offices Voysey designed, and is among his best-preserved domestic masterpieces.
The vendor has been the lucky owner of these for over forty years.
A rare Arts and Crafts oak architectural clock,
designed by C F A Voysey (1857-1941), c.1902
Voysey first designed a clock of this form with a decorated face for his own home, 'The Orchard' in Chorleywood, in 1895. It is shown in a photograph of the hallway. The original design for this is now in the collection of RIBA, and the clock itself held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The architectural form of the piece demonstrates Voysey's belief in simplicity of decoration without which, he said, 'no true richness is possible'. It can be compared to the clock tower he designed over the stable entrance at the Sturges house near Puttenham, 1896, his unexecuted 1889 design for a Tower House and the house he built for Mrs Forster at 14 South Parade, Bedford Park, Chiswick in 1891, all of which share the bold upright facia under an extended capped roof of this clock.
In common with a number of Voysey's designs, which he reused for later commissions with or without minor amendments, a limited number of other versions were created. Two examples in oak are known, and a few are known to have been produced in aluminium by W Tingley, one of which was shown at the 1903 Arts and Crafts Exhibition.
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