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Side Chair

Decorative Arts and Design

On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor

The shield-back chair, illustrated in English pattern books by George Hepplewhite and Thomas Sheraton, became one of the most popular American chair forms by the end of the eighteenth century. These two Federal-style chairs were upholstered over the seat rail using a decorative pattern of brass tacks to secure the material. A swag pattern of nail holes found on the seat rails of the chairs during conservation indicates that their original upholstery was attached in this manner. One chair has been reupholstered with modern horsehair textile and brass tacks that follow the original pattern.

MEDIUM Mahogany, cherry, ash, brass tacks
DATES ca. 1800
PERIOD Federal Period
DIMENSIONS 39 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 18 1/2 in. (99.69 x 53.97 x 46.99 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Matthew Scott Sloan Collection, Gift of Lidie Lane Sloan McBurney
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Unupholstered shield back chair with central oval enclosing Prince of Wales feathers above a decorative classical urn centered between two carved feathery stems terminating in volute-like roundels with pendant drapery swags. The plumes fold over themselves, displaying the undersides, which are delineated by two sharp edges. The middle plume touches the base of the crest rail. The base of the shield back culminates with a leaf fan consisting of alternating large and small leaves. Seat rail is unvarnished and seat is open because the original upholstery has been lost. Stretchers connect the four legs in an "A" shape. A band or rim wraps around the top of the reeded front legs; reeding is carved on the front and outer sides of front legs, a groove encompasses the front and both sides of the lower front legs approximately 1" from the floor. One of a set of nine (others in set are upholstered with modern horsehair upholstery), possibly made at different times or locations. CONDITION - Good . There is no bead molding at the proper left foot front. There is a triangular insert on the proper right stile. The lower five inches of the proper left rear leg has been broken and repaired with what appears to be a loose tongue with draw boring. There is a deep scratch on the back stretcher.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
CAPTION Side Chair, ca. 1800. Mahogany, cherry, ash, brass tacks, 39 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 18 1/2 in. (99.69 x 53.97 x 46.99 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Matthew Scott Sloan Collection, Gift of Lidie Lane Sloan McBurney, 1997.150.6. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1997.150.6_bw_IMLS.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1997.150.6_bw_IMLS.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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