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American Decorative Arts
Maker: Samuel Gragg, American, 1772–1855

Side Chair

Patented 1808

Oak, American ash, soft maple, beech

33 1/2 × 15 1/4 × 14 5/16 in. (85.1 × 38.7 × 36.3 cm)
seat: 17 3/8 × 17 1/2 in. (44.2 × 44.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Montgomery
The slats that form the back and seat of this chair are individual pieces of bentwood. This novel use of bentwood gives the chair the sinuous, sweeping lines of Grecian chairs. Decorated with a peacock plume and standing on goat’s feet, this fashionable chair uses innovative technology and up-to-date fashions. Samuel Gragg received a patent for the design of this “elastic chair” in 1808.
Made in Boston, Massachusetts
On view
19th century

Harry Arons, Bridgeport, Conn.; Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Montgomery, New Haven, Conn.


Patricia E. Kane, “Samuel Gragg: His Bentwood Fancy Chairs,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 33, no. 2 (Autumn 1971): 26, fig. 1.

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), 183-184, no. 163, ill.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 95, ill.

Michael S. Podmaniczky, “The Incredible Elastic Chairs of Samuel Gragg,” The Magazine Antiques (May 2003): 138.

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.