Austrian circa 1904 rare Thonet Bentwood Armchair Model No 6541

Austrian circa 1904 rare Thonet Bentwood Armchair Model No 6541

Code: MB036


W: 72cm (28.3")H: 130cm (51.2")D: 86cm (33.9")


Rare Thonet Bentwood Armchair

  • Austria circa 1904
  • Model No 6541 manufactured by Gebrüder Thonet
  • Original ‘Thonet’ label under the seat rail
  • Original woodwork
  • Tired and faded upholstery showing its age
  • Ready for re-upholstery
  • Rare opportunity

There is so much history reflected in this rare Thonet bent beechwood and upholstered Wing Armchair Model No 6541. The design of this chair encompasses the sense of dynamism and movement inspired the by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers of the Belle Époque era when the Art Nouveau style was popular between 1890 and 1910.

It was manufactured in Austria by the Gebrüder Thonet company circa 1904 and still has the original ‘Thonet’ label under the seat rail. Whilst it may not be in perfect condition this chair is comfortable and useable and is just waiting for an enthusiast to avail themselves of the opportunity to bring it back to its rightful state of elegance and originality. The woodwork is original and the existing upholstery is faded and showing its age and is ready for re-upholstery which can be undertaken inhouse for an additional fee in client’s own fabric.

It is believed that Model 6541 emerged in May 1904 in the company magazine, “Thonet Zentral Anzeiger”, and also the 1904 Thonet factory catalogue on page 121,when two armchairs with “ears” were featured (subsequently Models 6541 and 6542) and placed on the market.  This enabled them to steal a march on their main competition J & J Kohn’s Model 666 which also featured “ears” and was not available until the following year.  Jacob and Josef Kohn were father and son and also leading furniture makers and interior designers in Vienna who worked with artists of the Wiener Werkstätte and Josef Hoffmann in the design of many pieces.

Following is a brief history of this family company from its inception up to the period it is believed this model emerged. The original founder of the so-called "Bentwood" furniture company in 1836 was Michael Thonet; but the name Thonet quickly came in to replace that, in honour of the one who started it all.

After exploring the limitations of flexibility in wood Michael Thonet’s new system extended the appeal, beauty and functionality of the wood beyond novelty.  He was able to manufacture bentwood furniture that consisted of accurate and repeatable bent components by developing the first industrial scale processes and investing in machinery.  This replaced the individual craft skills employed until this time.  He was granted the right “to bend any type of wood, even the most brittle, into the desired forms and curves by chemical and mechanical means” by the Austrian court and was further granted the patent for bentwood table and chair legs with curvature affected through steam or boiling liquids. 

In 1853 Gebrüder Thonet was formed when Thonet transferred the company Thonet to his sons under this new name and by 1904 Gebrüder Thonet were extremely well established and continued to prosper.  Over their lengthy history there have been many changes but to this day the company still quotes “A legacy to be proud of” as you are welcomed to their website.