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Side Chair, ca. 1750-1780

Artist: James Gillingham, American, 1736-1781

Medium: Mahogany

37 × 22 1/4 × 17 1/2 in. (94 × 56.5 × 44.5 cm)

Credit Line: Bequest of Julie Isenberg

Object Number: 87.20.41

Not on view

Israel Sack, Inc., New York, New York, 1953; Julie Isenberg, Memphis, Tennessee, 1987

A new phase of furniture design emerged with the publication in London in 1754 of Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director.  This design book popularized the use of rococo, gothic, and chinoiserie motifs and was especially influential in Philadelphia where Chippendale's emphasis on rich, sometimes fantastic ornamentation appealed to the wealthy clients of local cabinetmakers.


The back of this chair follows closely a design in the Director.  Its splat, composed of pointed arches and quatrefoil inspired by gothic architecture, is combined with a  top rail composed of scrolling parchment-shaped cresting with delicate leaf-carved termini typical of the rococo.  The complex, undulating back contrasts with the simple rectilinear seat and square legs joined by stretchers, which mark a significant departure from the cabriole legs popular in the first half of the century.