Collections › MESDA Collection › Chairs


Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany, ash, yellow pine
HOA: 35 1/2; WOA: 20 9/16; DOA: 17 1/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Square-back chair: Square back divided into five arched panels with four round reed columns terminating at top with a capitol shaped as a fan; bowed front to seat; upholstered over the rail; tapered square legs terminating in spade feet.

STYLE: The source of this design is The New York Book of Prices for Cabinet and Chair Work (1802). This book describes a square-backed chair with Gothic arches. They were probably inspired by similar chairs common to New York.

WOODS: mahogany primary; ash seat frames; corner braces of yellow pine.

These chairs descended in the family of Arnoldus Vanderhorst (1748-1815), one of the leading political figures of Federal Charleston. He served in the state legislature, as a director of the Charleston branch of the United States Bank, as mayor of the city, and as governor of the State of South Carolina. Vanderhorst owned a townhouse on East Bay Street and a plantation on Kiawah Island.

These chairs are probably from the set of “12 mahogany drawing room chairs” valued at $24 in the 1815 probate inventory for Vanderhorst’s townhouse on East Bay Street. The remaining 10 chairs from the set are in the collection of Historic Charleston Foundation at the Nathaniel Russell House.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton