Side Chair

Made by 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


Gessoed, painted and gilded tulip poplar and oak, silk upholstery

34 1/4 x 20 x 20 inches (87 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the gift (by exchange) of Mrs. Alex Simpson, Jr., and A. Carson Simpson, and with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Raley and various donors, 1986

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In 1808, British-born architect B. Henry Latrobe completed the construction phase of the Philadelphia house he designed for merchant William Waln and his wife Mary Wilcocks Waln. The final element of this project was the interior furnishing, which Latrobe considered integral to the architectural scheme. For the drawing room, he ordered decorative painter George Bridport to paint scenes from "Flaxman's Iliad or Odyssey in flat Etruscan color, giving only outline on a rich ground."

This chair is part of the elegantly painted furniture Latrobe designed for the Walns' drawing room. Decorated in rich red, yellow, and gilt on a black ground and incorporating classical motifs and symbols, the set of drawing room furniture consisted of a pier table, Grecian sofas, a pair of card tables, window benches, and chairs. Its legs that curved inwards make the chair the earliest American example of a Klismos chair, a forerunner of the classical style that enjoyed widespread popularity in the late 1810s and 1820s. In addition to this chair from the Waln set, the Museum's collection includes six more chairs, a Grecian sofa, a card table, and a pier table with a mirrored back.