EARLY TURNED GREAT CHAIR

Eastern Massachusetts, perhaps Boston, Suffolk County
Circa 1675

Primary Wood: Soft Maple

Height: 42 1/2 inches
Seat Height: 15 3/4 inches
Width: 24 1/2 inches
Depth: 16 3/4 inches

Reference: Please see Benno Forman American Seating Furniture 1630-1730, pages 90-92, cat. 1. He discusses the distinctive arrangement of that finial’s elements as being very similar to the “Tufts family chair” which Nutting described as the “most perfect Brewster type” in his Furniture Treasury, vol. 2, no. 1799. That chair, owned by Mrs. J. Insley Blair, was eventually given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (51.12.2). See also the discussion of this group of turned great chairs and their finials from eastern Massachusetts on page 55 of The Concord Museum; Decorative Arts from a New England Collection.

In the discussion of the post’s turnings on the Blair great chair in American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Early Colonial Period by Frances Gruber Safford, pages 17-20, fig. 2, she states that the grooved, compressed vase shapes of the stiles are a key element of eastern Massachusetts chair making. Other great chairs with flattened ball post turnings include a slat back carver chair from the Blaney Collection illustrated on page 11, figure 413, of Luke Vincent Lockwood’s Colonial Furniture in America and one in The Furniture of Historic Deerfield, page 18, fig. 7. See also the likeness of the turned slat back chair in Colonial Furniture of New England, fig. 57, by Irving Whitall Lyon.

Note the similarity of the top rail of the back to the Winterthur great chair with its strong central round flanked by hollows. (Forman, pages 90-91). A carver chair at the Wadsworth Athenaeum (1926.399) from the Nutting collection also has this arrangement of turnings on its top rail.

Item Number: 7253