Illustrated: A nearly identical chair to this pair (but with applied
carved roundels at the knees) is in the Yale University collection. See scanned page below from 300 Years of American Seating Furniture, Patricia
E. Kane, (cat. no. 157).
Provenance: George D. Glazer
An elegant pair of chairs by the side of a casepiece (bureau or desk) makes an inviting statement, with their light weight, grace and beauty to live with. This pair is composed of heavy Cuban Mahogany and beautifully carved throughout.
This form of chair is derived from the Grecian klismos
chair, introduced to architects and furniture craftsmen in the late 18th Century
through such works as Hamilton's Vases. See Hugues d'Hancarville, Collection of
Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities (Naples: 1766-67) (illustrating antique
vase decoration showing, among other things, use of klismos chairs). The use of
a classical form for an entire chair, rather than just for incidental
decoration, is characteristic of the strict adherence to archaeological
precedents of the later post-Adam neoclassical period. These forms were
popularized in published architectural designs by Percier and Fontaine in
France, and by Thomas Hope and George Smith in England. The lyre -- the
attribute of the - Grecian and Roman god Apollo -- was a popular motif in
neoclassical decorative arts.
There are many examples of American klismos chairs with
lyre splats and paw feet. See, e.g., Charles F. Montgomery, American Furniture,
The Federal Period (The Viking Press, New York: 1966), Item 73 (illustrating
example at Winterthur Museum); Marilynn Johnson et al., 19th-Century America,
Furniture and Other Decorative Arts (New York Graphic Society, Ltd.: 1970), Item
27 (illustrating one of a large set of chairs by Duncan Phyfe for the New Jersey
Livingston family, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art). See also Montgomery,
Item 72a (Phyfe sketch of lyre-splat klismos chair).
A nearly identical chair to this pair (but with applied
carved roundels at the knees) is in the Yale University collection See Patricia
E. Kane, 300 Years of American Seating Furniture (New York Graphic
Society, Boston: 1976) (Item 157) (see scan). See also John T. Kirk, Early American
Furniture (Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1970), page 57, fig. 42 (illustrating same
chair). Kane notes that a design for lyre chairs is in The New-York Book of
Prices for Manufacturing Cabinet and Chair Work for 1817. (Kane, Item 157.) See
also Montgomery, Item 73.
We acquired these chairs 25 years ago from George D. Glazer., a New York Dealer specializing in maps and globes. Occasionally, important things came to him. He knew me personally, and when he acquired these chairs, he called us, as this pair is a collector’s prize in museum quality condition.
Height 38 in. Width 21 in. Depth 17 in.