Furniture Styles

Furniture > European > English > William and Mary > Chairs

William & Mary Chairs

Chairs of the William and Mary era were many in variety of design. In general they had lighter and weaker structures than the earlier Baroque chairs of Carolean furniture.

High Back Chairs

From about 1675 it was fashionable for chairs to have high backs.


In the William and Mary age we meet many tall upholstered chairs without arms and with rectangular shaped backs that do not extend to the seat frame. Sometimes the top railing was shaped. The upholstering was often of Genoa velvet in red, blue and black. Such antique chairs like these would often form a set of eight chairs, with two stools, and a settee and would likely be used to furnish state bedchambers. They were luxurious furnishings intended to show wealth and status. The high back with an arched cresting was fashionable in the 1690s, and showed off luxurious fabrics well.

High Back Upholstered Chair
High Back Upholstered Chair, 1700.
Beech, carved, painted and gilded, with modern upholstery.


Chairs with caned backs and seats were made from the 1680s onwards with many chairs, tall and narrow and often lightly built, of the W & M period having panels of cane-work in the back and seat. Caning had been an innovation introduced to England from Asia but caning of chairs was falling into disfavour gradually and by 1740 the last of the caning shops closed.

High Cane Back Chair
High Cane Back Chair, 1695-1705.
Walnut, carved and turned, with cane seat and back.

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