American Decorative Arts

Wainscot Chair


White oak

41 1/4 × 20 15/16 × 13 7/8 in. (104.8 × 53.2 × 35.2 cm)
other (Back post): 43 in. (109.2 cm)
seat: 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)
Gift of John E. Bray
This chair is the official chair of Yale College presidents. It belonged to the Reverend Abraham Pierson, the first rector of the Collegiate School, now known as Yale College. The Doric-style columns on the turnings of the front legs and arm supports reveal the influence of the classical tradition on seventeenth-century design. The turnings may have been the work of Lawrence Ward, a turner in Branford, Connecticut, from whose descendants Pierson acquired the chair.
Made in Branford, Connecticut
Made in New Haven County
On view
17th century

Deacon Lawrence Ward (d. 1671), New Haven and Branford, Conn. and Newark, N. J.; Rector Abraham Pierson (1641-1707), Newark, N. J. and Greenwich and Killingworth, Conn.; Gift of the Reverend John E. Bray, Seymour, Conn.,1841 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Patricia E. Kane, 300 Years of American Seating Furniture Chairs and Beds from the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), 6, 29–30, no. 1, pl. 2.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 87, ill.

Angela Miller et al., American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2008), 85, fig. 3.32.

Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 25, fig. 23.

Judith Bernstein et al., The Eye of the Beholder: Fakes, Replicas, and Alterations in American Art, ed. Gerald W. R. Ward, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1977), 46, fig. 47.

Dennis Andrew Carr, American Colonial Furniture: Guide to the Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004), 3, 16, fig. 3.

“City of Elms,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 17 (June 1858): 2, 18, ill.

Wallace Nutting, Furniture of the Pilgrim Century 1620–1720 (Framingham, Mass.: Old American Company Publishers, 1924), 268, 281, fig. 297.

Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury, 1st ed., 3 vols. (Framingham, Mass.: Old American Company Publishers, 1928–33), vol. 2, no. 1789, ill.

F.B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College (New York: Holt, 1885), 64.

Edwin Oviatt, Beginnings of Yale, 1701–1726 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1916), 210–19.

American Collector 6 (November 1937): 4, ill.

Robert Bishop and Patricia Coblentz, American Decorative Arts: Three Hundred Sixty Years of Creative Design (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1982), 20, fig. 5.

Homer Eaton Keyes, “A Note on American Wainscot Chairs,” Antiques 17 (June 1930): 521, 523, fig. 6.

Patricia E. Kane, “New Haven Colony Furniture: The Seventeenth Century Style,” Antiques 103 (May 1973): 958, 960–61, pl. 4.

Homer Eaton Keyes, “Editor’s Attic,” Antiques 25 (March 1934): 89.

Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture: The British Tradition (Suffolk, England: Antique Collector’s Club Ltd., 1979), 507, fig. 4:202.

Robert Bishop, Centuries and Styles of the American Chair, 1640–1970 (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1972), 20, fig. 5.

Connecticut Furniture: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, exh. cat. (Hartford, Conn.: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 1967), 109, no. 188, ill.

Three Centuries of Connecticut Furniture, 1635–1935: An Exhibition at the Morgan Memorial, Hartford, as a Part of the Celebrations of the Tercentenary of Connecticut, exh. cat. (Hartford, Conn.: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1935), 14, no. 8.

Patricia E. Kane, Furniture of the New Haven Colony: The Seventeenth Century Style, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: New Haven Museum and Historical Society, 1973), 58–59, no. 15.

Marvin D. Schwartz, American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds (New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2000), n.p., no. 141, ill.

“A Note About the Manning Chair at Brown University,” The Furniture History Society (February 2015).

Robert P. Emlen, “A Note About the Manning Chair at Brown University,” The Furniture History Society no. 197 (February 2015).

Marvin D. Schwartz, The Antique Hunter’s Guide: American Furniture (New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2000), 141.

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.