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Upholstered armchair


Object number

RIF1675

Maker

Maker: probably made by John Townsend, American, 1732–1809

Dimensions

Height: 109.855 cm (43 1/4 in.); Width: 71.12 cm (28 in.)

Date

1785–1800

Current location


Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); maple and pine (secondary)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

None

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Possibly owned by John Townsend (1732–1809), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughter, Mary Townsend Brinley (1769–1856), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to her nephew, Christopher Townsend (1807–1881), Newport, Rhode Island, 1856; by descent to his sister, Ellen F. Townsend (1809–1887), Newport, Rhode Island; sold by her estate to William P. Sheffield (1819–1907), Newport, Rhode Island, and his sister; by descent to his son William P. Sheffield (1857–1919), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his son William P. Sheffield, Jr., Newport, Rhode Island; sold by his estate to Harry Arons, Ansonia, Connecticut, ca. 1969; sold to Joseph K. Ott (1929–1994), Providence, Rhode Island, before 1975; by descent to his wife Anne Ott (1929–2015), Providence, Rhode Island; Christie's, New York, January 20, 2012, lot 149 (unsold)

Associated names

John Townsend
Mary Townsend Brinley
Christopher Townsend
Ellen F. Townsend
William P. Sheffield
William P. Sheffield
William P. Sheffield, Jr.
Harry Arons
Joseph K. Ott
Anne Northrop Ott
Christie's

Construction

The crest rail is in two parts: the flat, lower portion meets the raking stiles in mortise and tenon joints, the upper is of serpentine profile. The lower back brace meets the stiles and the top of the rear legs in dovetail joints. The raking, square-sectioned rear legs are spliced and screwed to the stiles just above the rear seat rail, which they meet in mortise and tenon joints, each with one wood pin. The side rails also meet the rear legs in mortise and tenon joints, each with one wood pin. Triangular blocks are fixed with rosehead nails to each corner of the frame. Each arm is set into the outside face of the stile, which joint is reinforced by a wood pin through the stile?s inside face. Later vertical and horizontal braces within the arm assemblies are fixed with modern nails to each other and to the undersides of the overupholstered arms, the side seat rails, and the bottoms of the incurvate arm supports. The arm supports meet the front legs in mortise and tenon joints, showing one wood pin each on the outside faces. Within the upholstered arms, behind these joints, are rectilinear wood blocks, tenoned into the arm supports above the side seat rails below. The rectilinear stretchers have slightly rounded tops, and meet their respective legs flush with their outside faces, in mortise and tenon joints, each with one wood pin. The front legs are stop fluted on their outside faces. At the bottom of the inside face of the rear legs is a slight chamfer. Each leg has a caster, doweled into its underside, held on with a domed-top fastener, and fitted with a wood wheel. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, November 11, 2011; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd

See also


Bibliography

Joseph K. Ott, "Recent Discoveries Among Rhode Island Cabinetmakers and Their Work," Rhode Island History 28, no. 1 (Winter 1969): 12–13, fig. 3–3a.
Joseph K. Ott, "Still More Notes on Rhode Island Cabinetmakers and Allied Craftsmen," Rhode Island History 28, no. 4 (November 1969): 115–116.
Joseph K. Ott, "Some Rhode Island Furniture," Antiques 107, no. 5 (May 1975): 947, 950, pl. IV, fig. 15.
Christie's, New York, The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph K. Ott, sale cat. (January 20, 2012), 56–57, lot 149.
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), 92n37.