CABRIOLE LEG SIDE CHAIR
With an Original 18th Century Leather Seat and an Outstanding First Generation Surface Throughout
Philadelphia, Circa 1735
Soft Maple (Acer sp. by microanalysis) with Yellow Pine Framed Slip Seat
36 ¾” overall, 16 ½” at seat rail, Width 21 ½” overall, Depth 19”
This chair belongs to an early group of Philadelphia “Crook’t Foot” or cabriole leg chairs that share a number of characteristics with later chairs labeled by William Savery but predate his work as an independent chair maker. The earliest labeled Philadelphia examples of the crook’t foot chair style yet discovered came from the shop of William Savery, but an even earlier group distinguished primarily by the presence of an unusual and redundant second rail above the seat rail has been identified.
Intense competition existed between chair makers in Philadelphia and Boston leading to considerable emulation of imported Boston chairs by Philadelphia makers who produced very similar chairs. The location and design of the redundant cross rail “shoe” is a feature known only on Philadelphia chairs, the yellow pine slip seat, and other construction details such as the shaping of the feet and chamfering of the legs confirm this chair’s Philadelphia attribution.
“The splat sits in a full-sized stay rail that is directly above the rear real. Both are tenoned into the stiles and perform the same structural function. Except for a pair of contemporary side chairs at Wright’s Ferry Mansion in Columbia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia chairmakers used a carved shoe atop the rear rail and did not cut two set of mortises into the adjacent rear stiles. The structural redundancy (which also includes two sets of stretchers in the Wright’s Ferry Mansion chairs) expresses the chairmaker’s attempt to apply new design ideas to existing practices. Specifically, these chairs in the New England fashion seem to represent a Philadelphia chairmaker’s response to inexpensive Boston imports.” Page 126, Magazine Antiques May 2003, Eighteenth Century Chairs at Stenton, ´ Philip D. Zimmerman. See also “The “Boston Chairs” of Mid-Eighteenth Century Philadelphia” Philip Zimmerman, American Furniture, 2009.
Condition: The chair survives in an outstanding state of preservation with a first generation surface and the original leather covered seat. There is a small old loss to the crest rail.