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American Decorative Arts
Maker: Ebenezer Tracy, American, 1744–1803

Writing-Arm Chair


Soft maple, yellow poplar, white pine, chestnut, white oak

43 × 36 1/4 × 18 1/2 in. (109.2 × 92.08 × 47 cm) other (Seat): 15 15/16 in.(40.5 cm)
Bequest of Janet Smith Johnson in memory of her husband Frederick Morgan Johnson, B.A. 1891
In combining desk and chair, this Windsor displays the ingenuity and efficiency often found in early American utilitarian furniture. The huge balloon-shaped writing arm has beneath it a small drawer, probably for writing tools and ink, and a sliding shelf to hold a candle or inkwell. The massive chestnut seat supports a drawer for storing papers and books.
Made in Lisbon, New London County, Connecticut
By appointment
18th century

Bequest of Janet Smith Johnson, New York, N.Y., in memory of her husband, Frederick Morgan Johnson (class of 1891).


Connecticut Furniture: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, exh. cat. (Hartford, Conn.: Wadsworth Atheneum, 1967), 137, no. 249, ill.

John T. Kirk, Early American Furniture: How to Recognize, Evaluate, and Care for the Most Beautiful Pieces: High Style, Country, Primitive and Rustic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 38, fig. 25.

Edgar Den. Mayhew and Minor Myers Jr., New London County Furniture, 1640–1840, exh. cat. (New London, Conn.: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 1974), 64–65, no. 74, ill.

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), 194-196, no. 173, ill.

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

Dennis Andrew Carr, American Colonial Furniture: Guide to the Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004), 9, 16, fig. 9.

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.