About 1730–60 with 19th-century japanning
Object Place: probably Boston, eastern Massachusetts, United States
101.6 x 50.8 x 41.27 cm (40 x 20 x 16 1/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Walnut; paint and gilding
Not On View
This chair is a good example of the late Baroque (or Queen Anne) style in New England-a solid back splat, “yoke” crest rail, cabriole (curved) legs with pad feet, and turned stretchers. The painted decoration was added later, presumably to update its look. The chair is painted with chinoiserie (Chinese-style) decoration, called “Japanning.” Although Japanned decoration was popular in the eighteenth century, the method and imagery of this Japanning dates it to the early-nineteenth century. The decoration includes the Gardner family coat of arms on the front seat rail and a variety of motifs, including vines and leaves, scrolls, trees, figures, and pagodas. Here, the added decoration, which also indicates family ownership, makes this chair more unusual and interesting.
Part of a set of at least nine known examples which can be traced back to Samuel Pickering Gardner (1767-1843) and subsequently descended in his family until the twentieth century; the museum's examples (see also 1981.17) were in the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Bybee by 1968; given by an anonymous collector in 1981 (Accession Date January 14, 1981)