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Side Chair, Square Back, Neoclassic

ca. 1800
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Salem
OH:37 7/8" OW:21 1/2" OD:17 3/4"
Mahogany, birch
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1990-36
Square back side chair with "elliptic cornered top containing a tablet" (LONDON CHAIR-MAKERS' AND CARVERS' BOOK OF PRICES..., 1802); tablet carved with a double swag on a ground of punchwork stars; three interlaced gothic arches seated in a splat rail form the splat; bowed side seat rails and serpentine front seat rail upholstered over the rails and originally trimmed with brass nails; square tapered front legs with molded front surfaces; tapered and canted rear legs cut with a chamfer on the front corners for lowest three inches of length.
Label:Derived from Hepplewhite's 1794 furniture design book, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, this chair with gothic arches and carved drapery swags was produced in Salem, home to some of the wealthiest merchants in New England. A painted version of the design was owned in the family of Elias Hasket Derby, America's first millionaire, whose grand house in Salem set the standards of taste and gentility. While many New England chairs were made with stretchers between the legs, Salem chairmakers chose to do without that extra structural support.
Provenance:Purchased for CWF by Priddy & Beckerdite Inc at Sotheby's Sale of Americana, January 26, 1990, lot 1136.
Inscription(s):"3" penciled inside front seat rail; penciled inscription inside right seat rail reads "[first word presently obscured by late corner block] 23 Ple[illegible] St / City."