Morris Sussex Chair
A excellent early example of the famous Sussex armchair.
Designed in 1860 by Phillip Webb and manufactured by Morris
Ebonised beech with original rush seat.
This chair was named after a country chair found in Sussex, which inspired the design with the turned frame and rush seat. Similar types of chairs, with imitation bamboo frames and rush seats, were fashionable between 1790 and 1820.
William Morris and his wife, Jane, used Sussex chairs in their first home, Red House, Bexleyheath, Kent, from 1860 and subsequently in their London house, Kelmscott House, Hammersmith. Morris's great friend, the artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) had Sussex armchairs in his studio, as did the sculptor, Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934). Robert Edis recommended this chair as 'excellent, comfortable and artistic' in his influential book, 'Decoration and Furnishing of Town Houses in 1881'. Examples from the Sussex range were supplied for students' rooms at Newnham College, Cambridge, and for galleries in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The Sussex range of modest seat furniture, which startedj with this armchair and a single chair, expanded as a result of the commercial success of the design. Eventually it included corner chairs, children's chairs, and settles. A whole page was devoted to the Sussex range in the firm's catalogue, about 1912, where the armchair was priced at 9s 9d (49p). Other firms, particularly Liberty & Co. and Heals, produced their own versions of this popular design.