Queen Anne easy chair of rare small size
Rhode Island or possibly Massachusetts, circa 1760-1780
Cherry legs and stretchers, maple frame, expertly upholstered in reproduction flame stitch fabric, 49 x 25 ½ x 19 inches (height of legs 13 inches)
The tall stance and dynamic narrow proportions of this easy chair give it a unique stature. Only one published example approaches it in overall proportions, an easy chair from the Robb collection designated as MASTERPIECE in Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture, Early American (New York, 1993), p. 73. The average width of Rhode Island and Massachusetts easy chairs of this model is about 35 inches. At 25 ½ inches wide, our easy chair is the narrowest example of this form known to us. The form is beautifully composed with elegantly shaped arms and wings, a compressed arched crest, and tall, shell-carved cabriole legs with large pad feet. Similar shell-carvings are found on a maple easy chair at Bayou Bend and another in a New York private collection, both of conventional scale. The treatment of the center stretcher is also unusual, having ring turnings flanking the arrow shaped terminals of the central baluster. The front legs are joined to the seat rail with round tenons and the boldly raked rear legs attached by wedged joints, features more typical of Philadelphia than standard practice in Rhode island or Massachusetts easy chair construction where front legs are usually secured to the front corner of the seat frame by a large dovetail and the maple rear legs are extensions of the stiles of the rear corners of the frame. The craftsman who made our chair may have apprenticed under a master familiar with Philadelphia methods. Transference of Philadelphia construction features to Connecticut and elsewhere via apprenticeship is best exemplified by a craftsman like Eliphalet Chapin (1741-1807) of East Windsor, who returned from Philadelphia about 1771, where as a journeyman, he had absorbed the aesthetic and construction methods of that city’s cabinetmakers. This easy chair was part of a notable collection of American furniture assembled by Kenneth D. Milne and Diana Atwood proprietors of The Old Lyme Inn. Their collection included outstanding examples of early New England furniture, with strong representations of armchairs that included the famous Gaines armchair from the Taradash collection.
Collection Diana Atwood Johnson (formerly Mrs. Kenneth Milne), Old Lyme, CT