Easy chair

DATE:
1750–1790
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Mahogany, maple, pine, and wool upholstery
CLASSIFICATION:
Furnishings
DIMENSIONS:
47 1/2 × 35 × 30 in. (120.65 × 88.9 × 76.2 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Decorative Arts and Design
LOCATION:
American Art - 18th Century, Level 4
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, The Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Tom C. Davis
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.
OBJECT NUMBER:
1985.B.25

General Description

By attaching side panels to straight-back chairs, easy chairs were developed in Europe during the 17th century as a means to protect the sitter from cold drafts. In both Great Britain and Colonial America, such chairs were expensive pieces of furniture due to the high cost of upholstery fabric. For those few who could afford such luxuries, easy chairs were usually placed in a bedroom and were often fitted with chamber pots beneath their cushions.

Rear curved legs are typical of English easy chairs and are sometimes found on elaborate Philadelphia and Charleston chairs; however, the vertically rolled arms, distinctive ball-and-claw feet, and use of eastern white pine indicate this chair was made in New England. It is the only known example with rear cabriole legs.

Adapted from

  • Kevin W. Tucker, DMA unpublished material, Label text (1985.B.25), 2006.

  • Charles L. Venable, American Furniture in the Bybee Collection, (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, published in association with the Dallas Museum of Art, 1989), 32.

Fun Facts

  • It was intended that this easy chair be seen from the back and side as well as the front, and it was meant to be placed well out in a room as it was used in the Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee residence.

  • An easy chair was an expensive item of furniture in the mid-18th century; with the added refinement of shaped rear legs, this must have been an extremely costly item.

  • This particular chair has been reupholstered at least six to eight times.