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Rocking Chair

Decorative Arts and Design

Upon the expiration of Michael Thonet’s patent on December 10, 1869, the Henry I. Seymour Chair Manufactory was one of the first American companies to utilize Thonet’s manufacturing process of employing steam to bend wood to fabricate furniture. As with Thonet’s furniture, the remarkably simple design is dictated by the means of production. Vernacular American influences abound as well. The chair’s minimalist form is taken directly from the Shakers, a religious sect known for creating humble, well-made furniture. Seymour’s company was so closely aligned with Shaker practices that it sent chair frames to nearby Shaker villages in upstate New York to have the traditional wool tape woven for the seat and the back.
MEDIUM Wood and original wool blend tape seat and back
  • Place Manufactured: Troy, New York, United States
  • DATES Design Patent February 23, 1875
    DIMENSIONS 36 7/8 x 20 1/8 x 27 1/2 in. (93.7 x 51.1 x 69.9 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Maria L. Emmons Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Rocking Chair. Cherry stained bentwood with wool blend seat and back. Back stiles and crest is one continuous flattened U-shaped bentwood member. Arms and front legs are also one continuous L-shaped bentwood member. Two tapered narrow straight stretchers between lower front legs and at sides; one stretcher joins lower back stiles. Front and back stiles joined to bentwood sleighs. Seat and back composed of narrow light blue and off white wool blend tapes. CONDITION - Minor scratches; seat and back soiled.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Grove M. Harwood. Rocking Chair, Design Patent February 23, 1875. Wood and original wool blend tape seat and back, 36 7/8 x 20 1/8 x 27 1/2 in. (93.7 x 51.1 x 69.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Maria L. Emmons Fund, 1995.97. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1995.97_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1995.97_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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