Collections › MESDA Collection › Armchair


Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –ash –tulip poplar –cypress –yellow pine
HOA: 39 1/2″; WOA: 28 1/2″; DOA: 31 1/4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Upholstered armchair: Open arm upholstered back and seat chair, with canted square back with serpentine crest; serpentine arms with leaf-carved terminals above out-sweeping supports carved on the uper side with a fluted molding and with a rectangular faceted block on the front of the lower terminal; enclosing a serpentine seat; the whole supported by channel-molded square legs with recessed stretcher; presently covered in a blue damask.

CONSTRUCTION: Crest/back stiles/stay rail joinery: unpinned mortise and tenon at crest and stay rail. Back frame/rear leg joinery: mahogany back legs scarf-joined to back stiles, held in place with glue and nails from back, screws from inside stiles. Arm/arm support/frame joinery: arms screwed to back stiles from the rear; arm supports rabbeted to receive arms, which are nailed in place from above; arm support fitted to side rails with unpinned mortise and tenon joint to rear of leg stiles. Frame, frame/front, and rear leg joinery: unpinned mortise and tenon joints; anti-racking braces originally set into angled open mortises at each corner. No glue blocks. Stretcher joinery: Unpinned mortise and tenon at sides and rear, center stretcher joined to side stretchers with half dovetail from below.

FORM: This type of chair is identified in Thomas Chippendale’s Gentleman & Cabinetmaker’s Director as a “French Chair.” Just five French chairs attributable to Charleston are known.

WOODS: primary wood mahogany; poplar and ash seat frame; cypress and yellow pine back.

This chair descended in the Horry and Rutledge families of Hampton Plantation, near McClellanville, South Carolina. The January 1786 inventory of Daniel Horry (1737-1785) for Hampton lists “8 French arm Chairs” worth £20 in the “long Room,” now known as the East Ballroom of the 18th-century house. Only two chairs from this set are known to survive, the one at MESDA and another example in a private collection.
Credit Line:
Purchase Fund