A chair like this one, with a rectangular, upholstered seat and back, was known a ‘Spanish chair’, as the design was based on sixteenth-century Spanish models.
The use of ornamental copper nails around the upholstery betrays the Iberian influence. For purposes of durability, these chairs were often upholstered with leather. In the case of more expensive specimens, a decorative pattern was sometimes pressed into the leather.
Rubens had this chair made when he became honorary master of the Guild of St Luke, the Antwerp painters’ guild. His name is imprinted on the back in gold lettering: ‘PET.PAVL RVBENS’. Like many other chairs from this period, the back was topped by two meticulously sculpted lions, a traditional symbol of authority. In the seventeenth century, chairs, like other pieces of furniture, were generally arranged against the wall of the room.
walnut and leather