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Side Chair

Challen, William __Attributed to
Place Made:
Lexington Kentucky United States of America
Date Made:
wood –paint
HOA 34-3/4″; WOA 18-1/8″; DOA 14″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Painted side chair: Has three horizontal slats, the top slat is the widest of the three with a painted dark-colored outline, the bottom slat is narrow with one central gold painted line and a thin dark-colored outline surrounding it, the middle slat is made up of four round medallions and a half round on each side, each medallion has an image of wheat painted in gold; back rails are beveled with gold painted floral designs with turned rings near the seat; seat is made of woven rush, the seat frame is curved with remnants of gold and black paint on the front; front legs are reeded with ball termination at the top, widening, then tapering with a button-mushroom type foot, back posts below the seat are plain in design; chair has six stretchers, two on each side, one on the front and back; the front stretcher is turned with a central diamond-shaped design with remnants of gold paint.

MAKER: This chair is attributed to William Challen, a Fancy chairmaker who worked first in London and then in New York City from at least 1796 to 1809. In May of 1809 he advertised that he was setting up shop in Lexington, Kentucky, where he remained in business at least until 1827. He is listed in the 1830 Federal Census as still being in Lexington, Fayette County, KY. The type of work his shop produced can be surmised from the following May 9, 1809, advertisement in the Kentucky Gazette and General Advertiser: Challen advertised that he had on hand and made “”Black and Gold–White & do.–Brown and do.–Green and do. –Coquelico and do.–Bamboo & c. likewise Settees to match and any of the above descriptions, all of which will be made in the neatest fashions and highly varnished which can be packed to send to any part of the state without injuring. He likewise makes Windsor Chairs–all orders will be thankfully received and attended to with punctuality and dispatch, and his prices made reasonable.” Three apprentices to the chairmaking business were bound to him in Kentucky: Isaac Messeck (1812), Anthony Gaunt (1813), and Nehemiah Messeck (1814).

Owned by Major William S. Dallam (d.1845) and Letitia (Meredith) Dallam (1790-1868) at Winton, in Lexington, Kentucky.

MESDA has additional objects owned at Winton by Major William and Letitia Dallam of Lexington, Kentucky, on view. These include profile portraits by Samuel Dearborn (Acc. 5449.1) and a painting by George Beck (Acc. 5740).

Credit Line:
Gift of Clifton Anderson.