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Side chair

ca. 1790
Origin: England
OH: 36 1/2"; SH: 17”; OW. 21 ½”; SW: 21 ½”; SD: 19"
Mahogany and beech; linen, straw and hair stuffing, iron, and haircloth fragment
Gift of the John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, Fund, Inc., through the generosity and interest of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, and members of the family.
Acc. No. 1979-170,4
Appearance: Side chair with seat upholstered over the rails and nailed with brass tacks. The chair has a shield-shaped back centering a pierced splat beneath an arched crest that terminates in small, carved ears. The pierced splat has five curved members. The pierced areas have lobed arches at the top and are rounded at the bottom. The carving on the central member consists of three stalks of wheat at the top of the splat. Three bellflowers, a bellflower petal, and an arch decorated with seven leaves descend vertically from these. There is an inverted, lobed-arch cut out at the bottom of the splat. The molded stiles are slightly curved. The front seat rail has a serpentine curve. The tapered, front legs are stop-fluted on the front and outside faces and terminate in spade feet. The rear legs flare towards the back. Rectangular side, medial, and rear stretchers.

Construction: Side rails tenoned into front legs and rear stiles; front rail tenoned into front legs; rear rail tenoned into rear stiles. Roughly triangular corner blocks in all four corners secured with two screws each, possibly replaced (screws and blocks). 3 ¼ in. long rabbets cut approximately ¼ in. deep at top of inside face of seat rails at each corner, mostly covered by corner blocks; top rear face of rear seat rail slightly rabbeted for upholstery. Side stretchers tenoned at obtuse angles to raking rear stiles and at acute angles to front legs; medial stretcher tenoned into side stretchers. Rear stiles tenoned into crest rail; lower portion of shield glued to stiles; splat, a single piece of wood, tenoned into crest rail and bottom of shield.

Upholstery: (.1) Portions of the original upholstery foundation remain intact and a small fragment of black haircloth indicates the chairs were originally upholstered in that cloth with decorative brass nails. The webbing, foundation linen, and stuffed rolls along the tops of the front and side seat rails between the upholstery peaks are original. The top linen has been replaced. The stuffed rolls that create the high-profile over-the-rail upholstery were made by stitching linen flaps to the foundation linen and webbing along the insides of the front and side seat rails. Bundles of straw were shaped to conform to the size of the upholstery peaks on the front corners. The three linen flaps were then pulled around the straw bundles along the front and sides and tacked to the upper outside faces of the seat rails.

Materials: Mahogany primary, beech secondary, webbing, tacks, foundation linen, straw, straw and hair stuffing, haircloth fragments