Important Philadelphia Chippendale easy wing chair
Important Philadelphia Chippendale mahogany easy wing chair, ca. 1755, with an arched crest, flaring wings, horizontal conical arm rests, compass seat, and acanthus carved front legs terminating in ball and claw feet and flaring rear legs with pronounced pad feet. This exuberant newly discovered example is similar in design to a chair at The Winterthur Museum that is pictured in Joseph Downs American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods, fg. 78. Provenance: Ruth Keator Fredericks, Colts Neck, New Jersey, ca. 1940 and thence by descent in the family of Bruce Fredericks.
*Pook & Pook would also like to thank Walter Mullen for preparing the chair for photography and exhibition. Pook & Pook would also like to thank furniture historian Alan Miller for his full report on the chair: While in most respects, this is a typical Philadelphia compass seat easy chair with claw feet, acanthus knees, and double c-scroll arms, it also has elements that depart from standard Philadelphia practice, particularly its cabriole rear legs. Other Philadelphia easy chairs with cabriole and semi-cabriole rear legs are known but they are rare. The well-known Logan easy chair has cabriole rear slipper feet. Famous examples at Winterthur also pre-date this chair; one has trifid front and rear feet and the other has faceted pad, or octagonal feet. At least one other trifid foot easy chair is known. Two claw foot Philadelphia easy chairs have semi-cabriole rear legs, and an unpublished chair and these examples have modified pad feet. This chair is the only Philadelphia claw foot easy chair to have surfaced with fully cabriole rear legs. The chair maker used standard side and rear knee blocks and omitted the rear brackets under the side rails that typically serve to increase the tenon surface in the side rail to rear leg joints. These rear legs probably indicate that the chair maker—at least the one responsible for the rear legs—was a recent immigrant bringing his training and construction habits from England or Ireland. The front legs of this chair are not as unusual as the cabriole rear legs but are still a little out of the ordinary. They are cut from slightly heavier stock than is typical and thus are more pronouncedly curved and with larger than typical feet, a feature shared with the Willing/ Francis/ Fisher chair (Blue Book, 227) and a few other chairs. The carver of the knees, while not identifiable by name, is a relatively prolific Philadelphia carver of the 1750’s and early 1760’s. They were responsible for a good deal of case furniture carving including the high chest base (Blue Book, 153) and several related high chests and dressing tables, clock cases, and many chairs, including many of the famous shell-eared tassel-back chairs, including Downs 127—which seems to share this easy chair’s feet—and Sotheby’s Parker sale number 2149. The front knee blocks on the Pook and Pook chair are novel. The upholstery frame of this chair is completely typical of Philadelphia in this era both in construction and materials except for the horizontal arm cones—the upper components of the double c-scroll arms shaped like powder horns. These are larger and less tapered than is typical and their upper elements are now truncated. This chair is an interesting and novel addition to the known catalogue of Philadelphia easy chairs. While its unusual rear legs did not catch on or become standard practice they do help fill out the story of the diversity and fluid nature of Philadelphia’s cabinetmakers in the mid eighteenth century.
Top edge of front seat rail patched due to tack holes. Rear end of conical arms truncated. One rear knee return replaced.
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