AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IVORY-INLAID EBONY ARMCHAIR
Coromandel coast, Madras, late 17th century
Abundantly open-work carved with mythical beasts, mermaids, birds, European soldiers with guns and cherbubs, the ivory inlays throughout with trailing plant designs, with a coat-of-arms in the top of the back splat, depicting a slanting cross on a field studded with ermine tails topped by a helmet with a boar, that belongs to the old Irish Norman FitzGerald family.
H. 108 x W. 62 x D. 64.5 cm
There are several branches of FitzGerald's, but the coat of arms of the FitzGerald of the Knights of Glin, in County Limerick (“Ermine, a saltier gules and a boar passant, bristled and armed”) corresponds best with the coat of arms carved in the crest rail of the present chair. The FitzGerald dynasty originally is from Normandy; the name is a corruption of “fils de Gérald”. Raoul Fils de Gérald “le Chambellan” (the Chamberlain), belonged to the entourage of William of Normandy who conquered England in 1066. With Maurice FitzGerald, lord of Maynooth, Naas and Llansterphan († 1176), the family landed in Ireland. The last Knight of Glin was Desmond John Villiers FitzGerald (1937-2011), the 29th Knight of Glin.
The scion of the FitzGerald family who ordered this chair probably was engaged by the East India Company on the Coromandel Coast/Madras, but who he was is not yet clear.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, through his mother Rose Elisabeth Fitzgerald (1890-1995), is a descendant of the FitzGerald lineage.