FINE AND RARE SET OF 12 CLASSICAL DINING CHAIRS
Comprising 11 Side Chairs and an Arm Chair
The slightly curved tablet crest rail held between incised styles with pyramidal tops and distinctively sway-backed stiles above the upholstered slip seat, continuing as saber rear legs, the paneled seat rails supported in front by turned, faceted, tapering legs. Six slip seats bear a period inscription, difficult to decipher, that looks like “G Bouvier”
H: 33” W: 19” D: 20,” Arm chair: H: 34” W: 20¼” D: 21”
Condition: Excellent; surviving in virtually perfect condition with a few small veneer patches to the crest rails. One side chair cleaned of paint with fully restored crest rail veneer and one with a mostly re-veneered rear seat rail. One with small wood replacement to the block at the top of one proper right front leg and two with chamfered front corners. The arm chair pieced at the bottom of the proper right rear leg. Recently cleaned and re-finished with shellac, in the manner of the period. The quarter-fan and “icicle” decorative elements may have originally been ebonized. The upholstery is new.
Published: Berlin, Carswell Rush, A Shadow of a Magnitude: The Furniture of Thomas Cook & Richard Parkin, Luke Beckerdite, Ed. American Furniture (Chipstone Foundation, 2013), p. 186, fig. 54.
This rare set of twelve is both sturdy and comfortable. Very minor differences in the details of construction indicate that this is an assembled set although they are outwardly identical.
A small group of American-made chairs of this model are known including four in figured maple (with a pair of figured maple settees, en suite), one of these in the collection of The Brooklyn Museum, is attributed to French-born Philadelphia cabinetmaker Michel Bouvier (1791-1874), as is its mate at the Carnegie Museum of Art. A set of eight closely related figured maple chairs with ebonized decoration, by the same maker, are in an important private New York City collection. These sets have carved half-anthemion above the slip seats rather than the quarter-fan treatment used in the present set. Rudolph Ackermann published a related chair in 1819 in his Repository of Arts.