Side Chair

John Aitken, American (born Scotland), c. 1760/65 - 1839. Designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, American (born England), 1764 - 1820. Decorated by George Bridport, American (born England), 1783 - 1819.

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


Painted and gilded tulip poplar and oak; caning

34 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 22 inches (87 x 49.5 x 55.9 cm) Seat: 16 3/4 x 17 1/2 x 15 3/8 inches (42.5 x 44.5 x 39.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 107, American Art, first floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Marie Josephine Rozet and Rebecca Mandeville Rozet Hunt, 1935

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British-born architect B. Henry Latrobe is known to have designed furniture for the interiors of many of his commissions and, between 1808 and 1810, at least two painted furniture commissions-for the White House of Dolley and James Madison that was destroyed in the 1814 burning of Washington, D.C., and this one, which was made for the house of Philadelphia merchant William Waln and his wife Mary Wilcocks Waln. George Bridport, a London-trained draftsman and ornamental painter of walls and furniture, executed the ornamental wall decoration for the drawing room of the Waln's house and the painted decoration on this set of drawing room furniture.

The other surviving components of the set include a pier table, a pair of card tables, a Grecian sofa, a window bench, and at least fifteen side chairs. This chair, with its klismos form---characterized by curving legs and a concave tablet top---and its flatly painted surfaces represents the earliest American manifestation of the decorative style known as Etruscan. While the chair's design is related to that of the other pieces in the set, no two tablet backs have the same central ornament. The modern yellow silk upholstery is based on careful investigation of remnants of the original.

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