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Armchair, splat-back

1805-1815
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Mahogany and ash
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1971-425
A Philadelphia armchair with a rectangular back with three carved and reeded spindles (flat on the back side) with turned and reeded arm supports and front legs. The back legs are turned in a simplified version of the front legs below the seat rails and reeded above. The arms extend down from the top of the stiles to the top of the arm supports and have an incised line outlining their top edges; button finials on top of stiles; front rail slightly bowed; upholstery is half over the rail.
Label:In 1807, Philadelphia merchant Stephen Girard commissioned a very similar set of early classical style chairs in ebony from cabinetmaker Ephraim Haines. The design for the chair may have been based on an illustration for "Cabriole Chairs" in Hepplewhite's "The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide," published in London in 1794.

Often scholars can attribute a piece of furniture to a specific cabinetmaker based on its similarity to a documented example. Because Haines hired specialists to turn and carve the legs, arms, and banisters of the Girard chairs, and those artisans could have sold the same elements to another cabinetmaker, this example cannot be firmly attributed to Haines.