Fine Canopied 'Bacon' Settle
Of Panelled Construction
Solid Well Figured Honey Coloured Elm
English West Country c.1780
81” high x 55 ½”wide x 24 ½” deep
Provenance: Coatney Farm, Indian Queens, Cornwall: The Derek and Sally Green Collection
A wonderful genuine Georgian period example of slightly canopied form, created with fine joined frame panel construction with mortice and tenon joints and wooden dowel/peg fixings, in wonderfully figured wild grain elm.
Two sided settles of this sort were functional in several aspects. Known as Bacon Settles, because the copious hanging space behind the seat was used to hang and store cured, salted and smoked meats. As the settles were invariably situated beside a fireplace, the cupboards were dry and not too humid and therefore provided perfect storage conditions for such preserved foodstuffs and such important household products such as wax for candles. The front of the settle has twin cupboard doors below the seat and the reverse has two tall vertical doors and a pair of small horizontal doors to access the canopy space.
These settles also served in an “architectural” sense as early room dividers. Generally situated between an open fireplace and a doorway, they served as draft excluders and created a protected and cosy space in front of the open fire. Settles of this type are typical to the English west country where also there was a good supply of mature elm trees/timber in the C18th.
This example is in excellent original condition with a wonderful rich honey colour typical to the finest patinated elm. It has great scale with elegant proportions and delightful details to the arm rest supports and arm rests themselves. It has direct provenance to the respected Green Collection and prior to that was situated at Coatney Farm in Indian Wells, Cornwall, for where it was probably originally made.
The “sculpture”, style and exceptional surface of pieces such as this are curiously compatible with both contemporary and traditionally designed interior spaces and unusually complimentary to contemporary and abstract art and architecture.
A rare and important piece of vernacular furniture of fine quality and great character.
Literature: Comparative Literature: David Knell, 'English Country Furniture 1500-1900' Antiques Collector's Club, Woodbridge, Page 349, plate 529