Side chair

DATE:
1740–1755
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Walnut, yellow pine, and upholstery (replaced)
CLASSIFICATION:
Furnishings
DIMENSIONS:
41 3/8 × 20 3/4 × 19 1/4 in. (105.09 × 52.71 × 48.9 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Decorative Arts and Design
LOCATION:
American Art - 18th Century, Level 4
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.
OBJECT NUMBER:
2007.63

General Description

With its richly carved crest rail, splat, and knees, this balloon seated chair is a remarkably distinguished example of 18th century Philadelphia seating furniture. Of particular note are the ten volutes decorating the knee brackets and back, the pierced and sculpted back splat, and careful detailing of the three shells. Few American side chairs of this period exhibit the rich profusion of ornament seen within this work - one of the only three known examples of its type.

American side chairs of similar design were made in Philadelphia after 1730 and based upon English examples, but most were significantly more restrained than their European counterparts. However, the degree of ornament, strongly rounded stiles, and bold, curved legs suggest the style-a connection evidenced by surface details as well as elements of construction such as the through tenons seen at the chair's back. The choice of walnut as the primary wood and trifid feet are indicative of slightly earlier stylistic preferences, but the complexity of the chair's overall design is reflective of Philadelphia's mounting embrace of fashionable rococo stylings, thus making it stand as a truly exceptional object produced within one of the leading American furniture centers of the mid-18th century.

Adapted from

Kevin W. Tucker, DMA unpublished material, 2007.