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Easy chair


Object number

RIF768

Maker

Maker Caleb Gardner, Jr., 1729 - 1801

Dimensions

Height: 117.793 cm (46 3/8 in.); Seat height: 30.48cm (12 in.); Width, arms: 82.233 cm (32 3/8 in.); Width, feet: 81.28 cm (32in.); Width, seat front: 76.2 cm (30 in.); Width, seat back: 60.96 cm (24in.); Depth, feet: 65.723 cm (25 7/8 in.); Depth, seat: 57.785 cm (22 3/4 in.)

Date

1758

Current location

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Geography

Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Walnut (front legs and stretchers); maple (crest rail, seat rails, rear legs, and stiles)

Marks

"Gardner Junr / Newport May / 1758 / W," in graphite, on outside of crest rail

Style

Queen Anne

Provenance

Keech or Keach family, Newport, Rhode Island, ca. 1850, and later Burlington, Vermont; sold to an unknown individual, Connecticut, 1926. Ginsburg and Levy, Inc., New York, 1926; sold to Mrs. J. Insley Blair (née Natalie Knowlton, 1884–1951), Tuxedo Park, New York, 1926; given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1950

Associated names

Ginsburg and Levy, Inc.
Keech family
Natalie Knowlton Blair

Construction

The chair's rear legs are continuous with its stiles, and the side and front seat rails are tenoned into the tops of the front legs. The side stretchers are joined to the front and rear legs with rectangular tenons and pinned. The medial stretcher is joined to the side stretchers with round tenons. The rear stretcher is joined to the rear legs with round tenons. There is a visible shoulder on the proper-left rear stretcher where it joins the leg. The chair is covered in an "Irish-stitch" pattern, embroidered on linen with a worsted crewel yarn. The visible areas of the chair's cushion were covered in the same flame-stitch, and an embossed worsted fabric was substituted on the side and bottom panels. The chair's embroidered back panel depicts a landscape populated by animals and a shepherd. It is worked in crewel on a linen ground with a Roumanian couching stitch. The only area of foundation upholstery visible is that of the seat frame, which is supported by eight strips of webbing tacked to the tops of the seat rails. In addition to the three strips running from front to back and the three strips running from side to side, which interwoven in a lattice pattern, diagonal strips were used to provide additional support. The webbing is twill-weave with a brown herringbone pattern. The chair's coarsely woven linen sackcloth is also visible, and is tacked to the top surface of the seat rails over the webbing. This was covered with a layer of marsh grass, which is visible through the loose weave of the sackcloth. The chair was trimmed with both tape and cord. Tape was sewed over the cord to create a raised border encircling the tops of the arm cones, running up the top edges the arm and wing panels, and forming a false crest. Flat tape was used behind the arm cones and along the bottom of the side and front seat rails. Tape was also used along the front edge of the arm cones, disappearing beneath the seat cushion. On the front seat rail, the tape continues only as far as the inner knee brackets. The tape on the side rails was applied in two layers. The first layer is a green silk with a yellow weft thread, on which is centered a narrow strip of black tape, probably originally silver in color. Polished iron nails were used to affix the tape on the seat rails and arm cones. These have cast heads and shanks like those of brass nails. Tape was also used to conceal the seams of the chair's cushion, which were raised to produce the same effect as cord.

See also


Bibliography

Morrison H. Heckscher, "In Quest of Comfort: The Easy Chair in America," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin n.s. 30 (October/November 1971): 65, ill.
Frances Little, Early American Textiles (New York: The Century Co., 1931), fig. 54.
Vincent D. Andrus, "Some Recent Gifts of Early New England Furniture," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin n.s. 9 (May 1951): 242, 247–248, ill.
Vincent D. Andrus, "American Furniture from the Blair Collection," Antiques 61, no. 2 (February 1952): 166 (ill.), ill.
Marshall B. Davidson, The American Heritage History of Colonial Antiques (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1967), fig. 169.
Alice Winchester, "Antiques," Antiques 100, no. 6 (December 1971): 884–885, frontispiece, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, "Form and Frame: Thoughts on the American Easy Chair," Antiques 100, no. 6 (December 1971): 887, 889, frontispiece, ill.
Robert Bishop, Centuries and Styles of the American Chair, 1640–1970 (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1972), 118–119, fig. 128–128a.
"A Bicentennial Treasury: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 33, no. 4 (Winter 1975–1976): n.p., no. 11, ill.
Wendy A. Cooper, In Praise of America: American Decorative Arts, 1650–1830, Fifty Years of Discovery since the 1929 Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980), 65, fig. 83.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 14, 59, fig. 1.51.
Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Late Colonial Period, The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York: Random House, 1985), 122–124, 366, no. 72, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, Upholstery in America and Europe from the Seventeenth Century to World War I, ed. Edward S. Cooke, Jr. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987), 98, 100–3, fig. 88, 90, 92, 94.
Joan Barzilay Freund and Leigh Keno, "The Making and Marketing of Boston Seating Furniture in the Late Baroque Style," American Furniture, 1998 (1998): 32–33, fig. 51.
Morrison H. Heckscher, "Natalie K. Blair's "Museum Rooms" and the American Wing," Antiques 157, no. 1 (January 2000): 184–185, pls. 6–7b, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, Amelia Peck, and Carrie Rebora Barratt, "Anatomy of an Acquisition," Antiques 160, no. 2 (August 2001): 195–197, pl. 6.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 44–45, fig. 33–34.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 272–276, no. 50, fig. 1, 3–5.