COLLECTION: Furniture

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Windsor Side chair

1790-1800
Origin: America, Rhode Island
OH: 38 1/4"; OW: 17 3/4"; OD: 18 3/4".
Maple, white pine, hickory, paint, wool, and horsehair.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958-4,1
Appearance: Windsor Side chair. Continuous bow back molded at front edge and mortised through seat at either side; seven back spindles, baluster-turned near bottom; saddle seat upholstered with early covering tacked in front of spindles and over front of seat; extension at rear of seat forms bottom support for two bracing spindles dowelled into top rail; four raking baluster-turned legs tapering at bottom; three turned bulbous stretchers, two side and one medial. The chairs were origianlly painteed green, but now are covered with black.

Woods: Maple legs and stretchers, white pine seat, hickory bow and spindles. (Hickory--sampled by U. S. Department of Agriculture 6-13-1972).
Label:By the last quarter of the eighteenth century Windsor chairs had become so fashionable that they began to appear in parlors and dining rooms. In such cases their hard wooden seats were sometimes fitted with cushions, like those made by Martha Washington for the Windsor chairs in her "little Parlour" at Mount Vernon. In lieu of cushions Windsors were sometimes upholstered, as was the case with this chair. Parts of the original dark green wool covering are still visible under the present nineteenth century wool. The chair itself was also painted dark green originally.

This "bow-back" side chair retains its early green wool upholstery stuffed with curled horsehair and marsh grass. A period reference to upholstered, or stuffed seat, Windsors referred to them as "fancy . . . Chs with cushions in ye bottoms." This rare survival of the now faded and worn upholstery, which was revealed under layers of modern coverings, would have complemented the chair's original green color and created a more comfortable seat than the typical wooden plank provided.