Collections › MESDA Collection › Armchair


Place Made:
Tidewater Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
black cherry
HOA: 42; WOA: 23 1/2
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Armchair with turned back posts supporting two turned cross-rails which support 4 vertical vase-and-ring balustrades; turned front posts supporting turned arms which pass over the front posts; modern split oak or hickory seat; vase-and-ring front stretchers; plain side and back stretchers with incised lines on a couple; the chair is missing its feet and part of each of its back finials.

STYLE: Considered to be the earliest known turned chair of southern origin, this chair reveals a distinctive regional stylistic development markedly different from early chairs made in the northern colonies. Craftsmen emigrated to the American South from Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and other European countries, and they brought the training and regional styles of their homelands with them.

The quality of the turnings on this chair are especially good, showing a mixture of both Mannerist and classical styles; the former is evident in the turnings of the upper and lower rails of the back, while the back posts, back spindles, and arm supports are largely classical in form, which is to be expected of Virginia turning of the late 17th century. That said, the turnings of this chair appear to be more related to the continental styles than to the British tradition. Indeed, the Mannerist form of the turnings, the tall back spindles positioned between two horizontal rounds, and the arms projecting over the front are continental features, that may reflect the impact of French Huguenot craftsmen in the Chesapeake.

This chair was discovered in Orange County, Virginia.
Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund