Portuguese Colonial Ebony Prie-Dieu chairsMid 19th century
A pair of exceptional Portuguese colonial prie-Dieu (or prayer chairs) made in ebony with a caned seat. The seat back with a solid ebony rectangular block in the middle surrounden by a carved and pierced floral design while the uprights of the back are relief carved with rosettes. The chairs feature a nicely shaped crest rail. The cabriole front legs feauture acanthus carving on the knees and end in ball and claw feet. The rear legs of square section are slightly raked.
Prie-Dieu chairs were designed specifically for prayer. The low seat was meant to be used for kneeling, and the top rail which was sometimes upholstered, as an elbow rest or Bible support. This form was current in the mid 19th century. This example preserves the low seat and high back which is open and carved rather than upholstered.
The chairs are in excellent condition and have been lovingly restored and finished to its former glory using a traditional form of French polishing and waxing.
Ebony has long been prized for its dense hardness, which lends itself for beautiful carving and a smooth finish after being polished. It is considered the aristocrat of hardwoods and is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. Ebony has always been a luxury wood and was so popular in 17th century France, that “ebenistes” is still the French word for cabinet maker. Furniture pieces of lesser woods were often “ebonized” (painted black) to make them look as if made of ebony.
Find out more about Portuguese Colonial Chairs from Goa.
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Portuguese colonial India
H: 108 cm SH: 37 cm W: 44 cm D: 45 cm
H: 42½” SH: 14½” W: 17½” D: 18”