Important Pair of Carved and Gilded Faux- Rosewood Upholstered Side Chairs


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Each of Klismos form with faux-grain painted surface, scrolled back with crest rail carved with gilt crossed flaming torches above a double cyma-shaped splat, with paneled stiles and an elliptic upholstered seat, the front legs turned and tapering with gilt flutes and capital elements.

Condition: lacking original (gilt) compo decorative elements on the seat rail in the center and above the legs. Restoration to breaks in two seat rails and old repairs to the joint of front leg and seat rail on two chairs. Possible minute loss in height to front legs. Modern seat frames. Lightly cleaned of surface dirt.

One chair from this set is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and another is in the Kaufman Collection on view at the National Gallery of Art. Two more are in an important private collection.

A New York side chair with a related splat is pictured in Berry Tracys Classical
America 1815-1845 (The Newark Museum, 1963), figure 35. This chair, one of a pair in the collection of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, is also pictured with its mate in a catalogue of their collection. These chairs share with the present set both the distinctive cyma-shaped strap-work splat and a carved scroll-back‚in the Directoire style but have a more predicable acanthus carved saber leg with carved paw feet. The front seat rail and front legs of the present set relate, instead, to earlier French Neo-classical chairs rarely found on American chairs such as on a Louis XVI upholstered arm chair of Philadelphia origin in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, pictured in Comstock, American Furniture, (New York, 1962) figure 420.

The combination of a New York-type Klismos back, and Directoire elliptic front seat rail and front legs is unknown. An armchair with elliptic seat rail and fluted legs, marked by Joseph Barry of Philadelphia is pictured in Page Talbott, Classical Savannah (Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, 1995), figure 94. Interestingly, Talbott also shows a secretary bookcase, documented to Duncan Phyfe and dating to 1816, with a double cyma shaped pediment related to the splat design of these chairs (Ibid, pg.127).

A Federal upholstered side chair dated 1790-1805 that was purportedly used in Federal Hall, now in the Museum of the City of New York, pictured in Robert Bishop Centuries and Styles of the American Chair 1640-1970, (New York, 1972), figure 325, relates to the present chairs in three intriguing ways: its Louis XVI/ Directoire fluted legs, elliptic crest rail and upholstery tacked to the frame.

The only related documented example of New York chairs with elliptic seat rails were made by Charles Honoré Lannuier for the Common Council Chamber of New York City Hall in 1812, pictured in Peter M. Kenny Honoré Lannuier, Cabinetmaker from Paris, (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998) page 138. Also pictured are tables with closely related legs documented to Honoré Lannuier and to his brother Nicolas, made in the period prior to 1812 (Ibid.) figure 10 &11 and plate 6 & 31.

The importance of these chairs can not be overstated as they redefine New York Fancy‚ furniture. Of exceptional rarity, quality and beauty, their original surface condition make this unique set of chairs of museum quality.

Provenance: Collection of Mr. & Mrs. John Rieger, 67 Park Avenue, New York, NY. Offered by Carswell Rush Berlin, Inc. Antiques

Product Specifications

Depth: 18
Width: 18
Height: 32
Lead Time
Varies (Limited Edition)

Vintage Specifications


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