American Decorative Arts
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Armchair

ca. 1750

Black walnut and pine

111.8 x 67 x 58.4 cm (44 x 27 1/8 x 23 in.)
Anonymous gift
2010.165.1

<SPAN lang=EN>
<P dir=ltr align=left>This armchair&nbsp;was made around 1750 in the wealthy colonial port city of Philadelphia. It is a superlative example of Baroque, or Queen Anne style, furniture made in the American colonies. A main characteristic of the Queen Anne style is the S-curve, which artist William Hogarth called "the line of beauty." Here, the serpentine S-curve becomes the chair's decoration. The back, seat, arms, and legs are all curves that intersect and echo each other and give the chair a sense of animation. The graceful design emphasizes the beauty of the wood, which is black walnut, an indigenous American hardwood. The curves are punctuated by areas of carving that include shells, scrolls, and ball-and-claw feet. This type of foot&nbsp;was&nbsp;employed by British furniture makers in the second quarter of the eighteenth century, but it fell out of fashion relatively quickly. It was widely used in the American colonies, where it was associated with the Rococo, or Chippendale, style. It is unusual to see a colonial chair of this early date with ball-and-claw feet. The hoop-shaped arms were also rarely used by American chairmakers, but they effectively echo the&nbsp;outline&nbsp;of the crest and splat. The ample proportions, graceful curves, and carved details give the armchair a feeling of restrained opulence. When it was made, it would have been the height of sophistication and would have graced a prosperous Philadelphia home.</P></SPAN>

Geography: 
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Furniture
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

“Acquisitions,” http://artgallery.yale.edu/pdf/acquisitions_2011.pdf (accessed March 1, 2012).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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