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).
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).