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Chair, One from a Set of 10

Decorative Arts

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.
MEDIUM Mahogany, watered damask
DATES 1816
DIMENSIONS 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)
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE H. Randolph Lever Fund
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