image of object
Photo: Courtesy Rhode Island Furniture Archive
Click the image to enlarge

Side chairs, pair


Object number

RIF6104

Maker

Maker: attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732–1809

Dimensions

Chair marked "III": 95.89 x 55.88 x 50.17 cm (37 3/4 x 22 x 19 3/4 in.); Height, seat: 43.82 cm (17 1/4 in.). Chair marked "X": 95.25 x 56.52 x 47.63 cm (37 1/2 x 22 1/4 x 18 3/4 in.); Height, seat: 43.82 cm (17 1/4 in.)

Date

1760–1790

Current location

Private collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); maple (rear seat rail and slip seat frame); chestnut (glue blocks); pine (glue blocks)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

On one chair: “X,” incised on rabbet of front seat rail; “T,” in ink, on underside of rear rail of slip seat; on the other chair: “III,” incised on rabbet of front seat rail; “T,” in ink, on underside of front rail of slip seat; “Bullock,” in graphite, on underside of one chair's slip seat; "WPB," in graphite, on inside of rear seat rail of both chairs; "[?]B," in graphite, on inside of rear seat rail of one chair

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

John Townsend (1733–1809), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his son Solomon Townsend (1776–1821), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his wife Mrs. Solomon Townsend (née Ann Pearce, 1786–1874); by descent to her daughter Mrs. William P. Bullock (née Phila Feke Townsend, 1812–1866), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to her daughter Rhoda Peckham Bullock (1852–1940), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to her nephew William Bullock Waterman, Jr. (1889–1959), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his son, William Bullock Waterman III (1918–2000), West Hartford and Simsbury, Connecticut; by descent to his, son Richard William Waterman (born 1961)

Associated names

John Townsend
Solomon Townsend
Ann (Pearce) Townsend
Phila Feke (Townsend) Bullock
Rhoda Peckham Bullock
William Bullock Waterman Jr.
William Bullock Waterman III

Construction

The single-piece leg/stiles are flat in front, rounded in back, and square below the seat, where they rake inward and rearward, with a slight chamfer on their inner faces below the stretchers. They are tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the flat-fronted, rounded and chamfered –back serpentine crest rail, which centers a recessed, segmental reserve decorated with punched dots and incised lines, and ends in molded, backward-scrolling ears. Tenoned into the crest is a single-piece, scrolling, open work splat, tenoned also into the top of a molded, single-piece shoe, joined to the rear seat rail with wood-filled fasteners. The front of the splat does not overhang the seat frame. The rear seat rail is tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the leg/stiles. The serpentine side seat rails, rabbeted to receive the slip seat, have flat-arched skirts and are tenoned and double-wood-pinned to the leg/stiles and single-wood-pinned to the blocks atop the front legs. The front rail is tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the front legs. The turned rear stretcher is doweled into the rear legs. The blocked and turned side stretchers are doweled and single-wood-pinned to the rear legs and simply doweled into the front legs. The turned medial stretcher is doweled into the blocks of the side stretcher. In each rear corner of the seat frame is a triangle block nailed with four brads – two into the rear, and two into the side rails. The front corners each contain two vertical glue blocks (some replaced), now nailed into place. The front legs have carved knee brackets glued in place; one is missing. The front cabriole legs have rounded knee and square-sectioned ankles above angular claws and talons grasping elongated ball feet. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, June 26, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Related objects


Bibliography

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), 345–348, no. 71, ill.