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“Aegyptian” Armchair

Design attributed to John Moyr Smith (1839-1912)
Manufacture attributed to Cottier & Co. (1864-1915)

c. 1875

Founded in 1869 by Daniel Cottier in London, Cottier & Company provided artful furniture, stained glass and textiles to their clients as part of the innovative Aesthetic interior. Although the company was extraordinarily influential – and is also credited with bringing the Aesthetic Movement to America – few pieces of furniture have been attributed with confidence to them.

Inspired by ancient Egyptian designs, the present chair is one of two such known whose manufacture has been attributed to Cottier & Company. The other example is in an important British collection.1 Both it and the present chair have the same distinctive form and amber-washed ebonized finish with painted faux inlay done with a technique similar to that used in the applied decoration of stained glass – Cottier’s first forte.2 The designs themselves have been attributed to the British designer Moyr Smith (1839-1915). Smith is also thought to have collaborated with Cottier on the design of a chair shown by Collinson and Lock at the London International Exhibition of 1871.3

1 Coleman, Brian C. The Best of British Arts and Crafts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2004, p. 244.
2 Donnelly, Max. “Cottier & Co., Art Furniture Makers.” The Magazine Antiques (June 2001).
3 Ibid.