Chair, One from a Set of 10
On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 4th Floor
These two chairs, produced about the same time in the Northeast, both take the ancient Greek klismos chair as their design source—as evidenced by the continuous curve of the back and seat and the splayed saber legs—but were made in very different ways. The Phyfe chair, part of a large dining set, is hand carved in expensive, imported mahogany. The Gragg chair (perhaps the earliest patented furniture design in the United States) incorporates parts made by steaming and bending wood, which streamlined the cost and speed of production. Gragg’s chair found some commercial success, but his innovations were not widely embraced by chairmakers or consumers. In the early days of industrialization, invention was not as readily accepted as it is today, when consumers line up to purchase the latest cell phone.
Mahogany, watered damask
height of back: 23 1/4 in. (59.1 cm)
height of seat: 17 in. (43.2 cm)
32 1/4 x 18 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. (81.9 x 47 x 49.5 cm) (show scale)
H. Randolph Lever Fund
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Duncan Phyfe (American, born Scotland, 1768-1854). Chair, One from a Set of 10, 1816. Mahogany, watered damask, height of back: 23 1/4 in. (59.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, H. Randolph Lever Fund, 67.19.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 67.19.2_bw_IMLS.jpg)
overall, 67.19.2_bw_IMLS.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/28/1984
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