Continuous Bow-back Windsor Chair Maker, attributed to: Jedediah Browning (American, 1767–1852)


American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

Windsor chairmaking originated in England and arrived in the colonies in the 1720s. With painted surfaces and wooden seats, which were sometimes upholstered, the chairs were a versatile form of seating furniture used in domestic, institutional, and landscape settings. There are many variations within Windsor chair design, but the continuous-bow back seen on this example—where a single piece of bent wood forms the arms and crest rail—appears to have been an American innovation. Continuous-bow armchairs were popularized in New York in the years surrounding the Revolution and spread into New England from there. This elegant chair descended in the family of cabinetmaker Jedediah Browning and was likely made by him. Born and trained in Rhode Island, Browning relocated to eastern Connecticut in the early 1800s. The crisp turnings on the legs, the attenuated spindles along the back, and the dramatic curve of the crest rail make for a particularly refined composition. The worn surface shows generations of paint, including a layer of brilliant crimson red beneath a coat of ebony black accented with gold.


Oak, maple, poplar, and pine


40 1/4 × 23 1/2 × 24 in. (102.2 × 59.7 × 61 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Susannah Keith Scully, Fifth generation descendant of Jedediah Browning

Accession Number



18th century


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 records is ongoing.



According to family tradition the chair was originally owned by Jedediah Browning, who moved from Rhode Island to West Woodstock, Windham County, Connecticut in 1808 and descended through several generations to the Connecticut antiquarian Elmer D. Keith, the donor's father .
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 34, pl. 2
  • "Acquisitions 2002," in "The Original Work of Art: What It Has to Teach," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2003), 136–37, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

continuous-bow Windsor armchairs

Technical metadata and APIs


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