11 May 2012

Variations of the porter's chair

Marinni's LiveJournal blog contains some truly impressive compilations of photos; one post last month covered the topic of porter's chairs.  Here are a half-dozen examples from her assemblage of over a hundred photos of chairs and their portrayal in paintings.

The conventional style of a porter's chair is to have wings on the sides and a canopy top, as shown above or in this Louis XVI example:

The style reportedly originated in medieval England or northern Europe, for use by the porter of the house, who would sit near the front door to greet visitors.  The lateral wings supposedly protected the porter from drafts.  Some versions had a lateral apparatus where the porter could place his lantern.

Some of chairs (perhaps the carved oak one above, certainly the one below, had a drawer beneath the seat into which could be placed a heating element such as coals or perhaps a warming iron.

Here is a Regency period example:

Later versions came with removable tops - which begs the question as to why a top was needed in the first place.

 The latest incarnations are wicker or cane garden and beach chairs, where the top now may offer some sunblocker effect -

- and the latticework sides provide only a partial windblocking effect.

Very interesting.  You learn something every day.

Photo credits at the bottom of the source link.


  1. Fascinating. Definitely something new for me. I instantly realized that someday I'm going to have to get some type of porter's chair for my house. I like their uniqueness.

  2. That Regency chair is absolutely stunning, a work of art.

    It also looks as though it has a removable top, BTW. At any rate, the top isn't of a piece with the rest of the chair. Look at where the top meets the chair the right of the photo at the front.

  3. I could visualize a porter's in my box at the opera house. It would capture sound sort of like a band shell in reverse.

  4. Finally, the mystery of a piece of furniture in my house is solved! Purchased for the amount of "if you can haul it away, it's yours" from a flea market, The Chair in question looks to be from the 1950's or 60's, but I never knew what to call it. We simply called ours "The Chair". Sitting in it is comforting, due to the covered top.
    They are great conversation pieces to say the least.

  5. I wonder if the removable tops were to facilitate moving the furniture through cramped houses. It could be very difficult to get them up a staircase that turns with the top in place. I've heard that some traditional wardrobes were designed to be easily disassembled for the same reason.


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