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Armchair

ca. 1765
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
OH: 42 3/4"; OW:(seat front) 28 3/4"; OD(seat): 29 3/4"
Mahogany and white oak
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1930-170
Armchair, top of back of serpentine shape over most of area with slight curve at each side; slightly raked back; seat tapers outward slightly at each side, straight across front; arms of serpentine curve, upholstered over most of area and terminating in knuckles deeply carved with acanthus foliage; arm supports straight across back and rounded across front, curve outward from knuckles to seat, then shaped downward at right angles to floor to terminate slightly above bottom edge of seat; bead-and-reel molding across each side and across front at bottom edge of seat; one bracket at each side of front legs in shape of a downward half-scroll extending from corner formed by leg and seat rail to center of large "C" scroll; front legs square in section, straight , and terminate in Marlborough feet; at each outer side of front legs a recessed panel oblong in shape with quarter circle at each corner extending from top of leg to slightly below stretchers; each panel frames one loop of strap-work at top from which depend three bellflowers separated from each other by 4 half-round elements; half-round molding below leg panels encircle each leg; outer sides of front legs between molding and feet include one square recessed panel with a quarter circle at each corner; back legs square in section and flare to rear; one stretcher at each side and one medial stretcher near front; one caster, old and without evidence of being original or a replacement, set into each back leg.
Label:This armchair is one of several surviving examples of the same design that have long been attributed to Thomas Affleck. Another group of very similar chairs with blind fret carved on their legs are believed to have been owned by Pennsylvania governor John Penn. Indeed both sets have long had Penn family histories associated with them. It has been suggested that this chair and others with the same design element might have been owned by John's brother Richard Penn, Jr., who had an elegant Philadelphia town house and was a Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania from 1771-1773. Design elements on both sets of chairs were taken from Thomas Chippendale's furniture design book, "The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker's Director," a copy of which Affleck owned. It is believed that Affleck arrived in Philadelphia on the same ship as Pennsylvania governor John Penn and a reference to Affleck's now missing manuscript accounts and receipt book suggests that John Penn purchased furniture from Affleck including both sets of chairs.
Provenance:Ex Coll: Howard Reifsnyder, Philadelphia. Ex Coll: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Mark(s):None found.