SET OF FIVE FEDERAL “FANCY” PAINTED CHAIRS
Probably Salem, c. 1805
The set consisting of four side chairs and an arm chair in black paint with gray pin-striping, having a turned crest rail with a central tablet decorated with a painted representation of crossed sheaths of wheat on a yellow ground above a pair of cross braces with six vertical stays each with a small tablet with stylized red stars on yellow ground, above a pair of cross braces positioned closer to the seat, held between styles with acorn finials and a yellow-painted vertical stripe on the planed front face, above a rush seat with fine applied seat rails, above turned, tapering front legs with a ball top, yellow front stripe and terminating in high turned spade feet. The legs are connected with a pair of stretchers on each side, a rear and front stretcher, the front stretcher with a tablet with stars painted on a yellow ground. The arm chair having a turned support and three vertical stays with yellow-painted tablets with stars held between the turned arm-rest and a corresponding horizontal brace below.
H: approx.: 33″
Condition: Excellent; Having no wood repairs or replacements and with paint in pristine condition with only small areas of loss, consistent with age and use. All the rush seats are replaced except on one side chair.
These chairs are believed to have been made in Salem, Massachusetts, based on three published examples, two in Dean A. Fales, Jr., American Painted Furniture 1660-1880 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1972), 146-7, and one in Dean T. Lahikainen’s, Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style (Salem: Peabody Essex Museum, 2007), 125.
The present chairs share with the published “fancy” chairs that are believed to be Salem made, distinctive finials and the painted crossed sheaths of wheat, clearly by the same artist, and the high turned spade foot. Two of these chairs are in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Ma.
Another closely related set of “fancy” chairs are in the collection of the Morris Jumel Mansion in upper Manhattan and a third set was illustrated in the Magazine ANTIQUES (May, 2005), p. 108, and one of these was featured on the cover of the issue.