Side chair

1840–60


Object Place: probably Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

Overall: 108.6 x 45.7 x 45.1 cm (42 3/4 x 18 x 17 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

1976.645

Medium or Technique

Mahogany, mahogany veneer, chestnut, original needlework upholstery

On View

Waleska Evans James Gallery (Gallery 236)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Seating and beds

Low chair in “Elizabethan” or “Gothic” style. Square seat with shaped rear legs and spiral turned front legs ending in ball and ring turnings, feet possibly missing castors. Front and rear skirt ornamented with gothic arches, acorn drops, and applied bosses. Rear stiles spiral turned with ball and ring turnings at base and top, terminating in delicate steeple finials. Back elaborately pierced and carved with trefoil motifs, leafage, and gothic arches. Seat upholstered with mulitcolor needlework, oval needlework panel on back also; probably original. Condition: textile worn but original; feet possibly cut down.


The upholstery on this chair-with jewel-like colors and a geometric pattern-suggests medieval stained glass. However, the appearance of the needlework has changed over time. The iron-oxide dye used to blacken the wool stitches at the center of each geometric element caused the wool to disintegrate, leaving colorless holes. Nevertheless, the overall effect is a harmony of design between the chair’s ornately carved frame and its vibrant upholstery.

Provenance

Descended in the Boylston family of Boston. In 1976, given to the Museum as a bequest from Barbara Boylston Bean.

Credit Line

Bequest of Barbara Boylston Bean