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Side Chair

Place Made:
Norfolk Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –ash
HOA: 38; WOA: 20 1/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Heart-back side chair with a central flower, elongated leaf and radiating fan inlays on the back; upholstered serpentine seat with brass tacks; incised sword-shaped maple panels inset into the square tapering legs; back legs slightly splay; H-stretcher, one stretcher in back; pitch-like black inlay.

The exceptional shaded inlay on the back of chairs and the unusual leg inlays serve to document the existence of a sophisticated regional style in Norfolk at the end of the eighteenth century. Covered with reproduction haircloth. The pattern of the nails is unusual for its top row of tacks, but follows the original pattern.

RELATED WORKS: A dated 1795 painting of Elizabeth Hack Henry, wife of Dr. William Henry of Accomack County, Eastern Shore of Virginia, shows the subject sitting in a chair of this design. The Hack family’s early history is one of Northampton County across the Chesapeake Bay from Norfolk.

This chair and a second chair we owned but sold to Colonial Williamsburg are apparently from a set of which three others were recorded by the MESDA Field Research Program. They are attributed to Norfolk on the basis that three had histories of having been found in Virginia and that the pitch-like black inlay in the legs has been found only in furniture of that city.
Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund