Armchair, panel back
Origin: America, Virginia, Rockbridge County (probably)
OH: 44 1/2"; OH(seat): 15 1/4"; OW(seat): 22 1/4"; OD(seat): 19 1/2"
Gift of Mrs. John Patterson Yeatman in memory of Miss Josephine Gilmore Yeatman
Acc. No. 1964-489
Panel back Armchair: Top of back in the form of two serpentine curves meeting at center; back formed of a fielded panel with an arch at the center top repeated in both the panel and the rail framing it; lower edge of rail below back panel shaped in two serpentine curves meeting at a stepped curve at center; at bottom of back is a rail shaped on the upper edge in a double serpentine curve meeting at center and with a stepped curve at each side; rails of back square in cross section, tapering from bottom inward to top; one arm at each side, "square" in cross section and sloping downward to terminate in a flat, circular from; cylindrical supports to arms with incised lines at intervals; straight rails at each side and front of seat; flat seat made of two boards which fit into notches in seat rails; stretchers, rectangular in cross section, two at each side and one at bottom at rear; stretcher at front with lower edge in the form of two serpentine curves meeting at center; front legs of three blocked elements alternating with two cylindrical elements with incised lines; rear legs a continuation of stiles at back and straight and "square" in cross section; entire chair pegged together with wooden pins; arms and seat rails tenoned through rear stiles.
Label:Made by a joiner rather than a turner, this wainscot chair descended through the Gilmore family in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Of Scottish descent, the Gilmores settled in what later became Rockbridge County about the middle of the 18th century, having migrated from Ireland by way of Pennsylvania. Chairs of similar form, with paneled backs, shaped arms and crests, board seats, and turned front posts, were made in Scotland, Ireland, and Pennsylvania from the 1640s through the end of the 18th century. The maker of this chair might have learned his trade in any of those places.
Modern-day Rockbridge County was still a disputed territory at the time of this chair’s production. Scores of settlers, including several members of the Gilmore family, were killed there in 1759 and 1763 during raids by the Shawnee.
Provenance:According to a modern label on the chair when it was received from descendants of the original owners, this chair was brought from Pennsylvania by the first Gilmores who had emigrated from Scotland to Pennsylvania and then to Augusta (now Rockbridge) County, Virginia, in 1740-1745 during the Scotch-Irish emigration to the Valley of Virginia. However, wood species identification makes clear that the chair is actually of American origin.
Family tradition asserts that brothers Joseph and Thomas Gilmore came to Augusta (now Rockbridge) County, Virginia in the 1740s. Joseph settled on the James River and Thomas on Kerr Creek. The chair reportedly descended from Joseph Gilmore through multiple generations to John P. Yeatman of Roanoke, Virginia, whose mother was a Gilmore.
Mark(s):Hearts and a fylfot are symmetrically scribed into the front of the back panel. Now partly obscured by other scratches, their age is uncertain.