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Armchair, splat-back

Origin: England, London (probably)
OH: 38 3/4"; OW: 28 1/4"; OD: 20 1/4"
Mahogany and cane
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1959-351,2
Armchair with shaped crest rail with a pagoda top in center and two smaller pagoda tops at ears above a panel with geometric pierced "Chinese" lattice work, quatrefoils, and pagoda tops; the shaped arms with lattice work below and "C" shaped arm supports; straight legs, front legs square in cross section with chamfered inner corners, carved with geometric and lattice type designs; rear legs square in cross section, flaring back at foot; pierced scrolled "C" and "S" shaped brackets at juncture of front and side rails and legs; front skirt carved like front legs with geometric and lattice type designs; caned seat.
Label:The English rococo style of the eighteenth century incorporated elements from diverse sources. Here the strong effects of the Chinese style are seen in the pagoda crests and in the lattice-work railings on the backs and arms. Likewise, the use of fretted brackets for connecting the legs and seat rails is derived from Chinese design sources, but in this instance they are composed with C and S-scrolls common to European rococo ornament.

Originally part of a larger set that included chairs, settees, and stools, this chair has a history of ownership by John Wentworth, the last royal governor of New Hampshire.
Provenance:According to family tradition and early published information, this settee and chairs (along with another settee, a footstool and 3 chairs in the Moffatt Ladd House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and one other chair in a private collection.) were originally owned by John Wentworth, the last Royal Governor of New Hampshire. Recent discoveries, however (see letter in of from Miss Elizabeth Rhodes to BAG, 1972) indicate that all of this furniture (which originally was part of a larger set) was originally owned by John Fisher, an English and Tory who married Ann Wentworth, sister of Governor John. His property was confiscated and an inventory taken, among which was included the following: "2 Sofias carved Mohogany with Damask Cushions L 26", "4 stools with ditto.. 65/," "8 Nut chineas fraim Chamber chairs 2 with arms L 24", and "10 Carved back Mohogany Chamber ditto at 48/" While there is no proof that these entries refer to the present furniture, the listing of the matching settes and chairs and stools seems rather conclusive. There is a discrepancy over the number of armchairs, but perhaps there is a ready answer for that. That is no record of the sale of John Fisher's property, so it is possible that Mark Hunking Wentworth (Ann Fisher's father) bought some of it, including the chairs, settees and stools. Then, according to family tradition and a label on one of the chairs at the Moffatt-Ladd House, the furniture was from Mark H. Wentworth's estate in 1794 by the Hon. Nathaniel Haven. Haven's wife, Polly Moffatt, gave them to her daughter, Maria Tufton Haven (Mrs. Alexander Ladd) in 1842. Mr and Mrs. Ladd are shown seated in the chairs in 2 portraits by Albert Gallatin Hoit, painted about 1847. These portraits (photos in OF) were owned in 1961 by Mrs. Carl A. Mead of Kittery, Maine, and were on deposit at the Moffatt-Ladd House. The furniture remained in the house until about 1912, when it was dispersed to various member of the Ladd family. The Williamsburg settee and chairs were, according to the vendor, acquired by a Mr. Charles Penhallow of Jamaica Plain, Mass. from the Ladd family (date unknown) who in turn sold them to a Mrs. William Goodwin. The vendor obtained the chairs from a descendant of Mrs. Goodwin.