- Just In
- Fine Art
Mahogany Chippendale Side Chair
The side chair splat takes its design from plate 10 of Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman & Cabinet-Maker's Director (1754, 1755, 1763). The shaped crest has a rolled mantle in the center and foliate ears. The stiles are molded and extend to the floor as rounded rear legs. The trapezoidal seat frame holds a slip seat. Side rails are tenoned through the rear stiles. The undersides of the seat rails are cut to create long C scrolls. The cabriole legs end in claw-and-ball feet. The knees are plain. Knee brackets, which are glued up of two pieces of wood, have C scrolls carved along the bottom edge. Incised C scrolls on the front rail join in the center at a small foliate device.
Identification of this chair as part of the same set as the side chair labeled by Gillingham is based on favorable comparison of splat patterns (which are identical), construction variations, and all carved details. The labeled chair (marked “IIII”), now owned by the White House Historical Association (accession number 970.669.1), is illustrated in Luke Vincent Lockwood, Colonial Furniture in America, 3rd ed. (1926; reprint ed., New York: Castle Books, 1951), p. 94, fig. 558, where it is identified as property of Frank I. Hammond of Providence, R.I. This same chair is also illustrated in Antiques (June 1946), p. 359, where it is identified as being on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another unlabeled example from this set is owned by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, accession number 1982.43. Yet another chair probably from this set was sold at auction in 1999.
The owner of this chair inherited it through her mother and from her grandfather, Christian Swartz. Swartz, born in Württemberg, Germany in 1846, emigrated to Newark, N.J., with his family at age 3. After service in the Union army during the Civil War, he began a career in cigar manufacturing. When in his mid 30s, he served two terms as mayor of South Norwalk, Connecticut (1880-1884), held other public offices, and was among those who organized the City National Bank.
Swartz married Adora M. Flynn in 1875 with whom he had Charles C. who became a Connecticut state legislator, and Helen M, who never married. His single grandchild is the present owner of the furniture. Swartz died on November 2, 1932.
Swartz built a large house at 272 West Avenue, South Norwalk, Connecticut, about 1907. (The street address was 68 West Avenue, Norwalk, before South Norwalk merged with Norwalk.) The house is no longer standing, but photographs of the exterior and interior survive. The chair is visible in three photographs of the living room. Swartz acquired antique furniture for his house from about 1907 through 1919, the date of a bill of sale for an oxbow chest and pair of English knife boxes acquired from James Davidson Antiques, 191 Howard Street in New London, Conn. No bill of sale for this chair survives.
Materials and Techniques:
Mahogany; tulip poplar secondary wood
The chair was refinished at the time of its purchase in the early 20th century. That finish now exhibits craquelure and other evidence of age. An earlier finish layer is visible in places. Corner blocks appear to be replacements. An additional pin was introduced in both front rail joints and in the front joint of the side rails. The surface has been cleaned of most of its earlier finish. The chair has been refinished, probably when the family acquired it in the early 20th century. Evidence of the earlier finish is visible in places underneath, notably on the crest rail.
Dimensions: Width 23.75" | Height 38.5" | Depth 21.25" | Seat Height 17"