A William IV period carved oak and upholstered ottoman foot stool attributed to Thomas King.
The word ottoman was first introduced into the language of English furniture by both Thomas Sheraton and George Smith in the first two decades of the nineteenth century and was more commonly associated with a long and low sofa as can be seen in Sheraton’s designs for Carlton House and in Smith’s Designs for Household Furniture. They continued a longstanding but muted influence in English design for Turkish or eastern influenced material described as “turkey work”. This fascination for eastern influence endured through the Regency, William the Fourth and Victorian periods although by the late 1820’s, the word ottoman was more commonly used to describe an upholstered footstool or box with hinged lid and curvaceous sides. They were often finished with tassles to each corner in a nod to their eastern beginnings. William Smee’s catalogue of the 1830’s shows both footstools and boxes completed in this manner and described as “Ottoman seats” (see images).
This early piece shows the transition from the classical motifs of the Regency period and moreover bears close resemblance to some of the design standards that were obvious of Thomas King’s work of the late 1820’s. King is perhaps lesser known than some of the designers of the age but his work is executed with superb style and is useful as a guide of the transitional state of furniture design from the Regency period and into the William the Fourth and early Victorian eras. A difficult phase for most academics to this day.
Although, his history as a designer is still little understood, King produced no less than 28 pictorial design books between 1828 and 1844 incorporating the new fads for not only classical but revival styles such as the Elizabethan and the Renaissance periods. His influence was wide, with a number of his books being exported to the United States where many examples of furniture bear his trademark style. Copies of his books remain held at the Boston, New York and Philadelphia libraries.
This fine example of an ottoman stool has an oak base with heavily Gothic styled carving with acanthus style classical feet in King’s trademark style, (see images) and it is reupholstered in a contemporary stripe reminiscent of the early nineteenth century fashion. Larger than the more often encountered Victorian examples, this stool is a rare survivor from a transitional period in English furniture.