A very fine and rare Chippendale carved walnut easy chair, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania circa 1770
John Walton Inc., Jewitt City, Connecticut
Opulent in eighteenth century Philadelphia, this easy chair represents the pinnacle for the form, with its outward flaring wings, C-scroll arms, bowed seat rail, front cabriole legs with carved knees claw feet, and rear legs with a pronounced rake. It incorporates the serpentine line into every element of its composition, achieving a control of line that is seldom found in comparable easy chairs. Israel Sack Inc. has recognized this chair or a virtually identical one as "an outstanding example, representing the highest development in an American wing chair" in American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, Volume I, no. 200, p. 63.
Two closely related easy chairs were originally owned by John Brown (1736-1803), the prominent Providence merchant. One made of walnut was sold in these rooms, Important Americana, January 19-21, 2007, sale 8278, lot 586. The other of mahogany without upholstery appears in a John Walton advertisement in The Magazine Antiques for November 1974. Both were supplied to John Brown by Plunket Fleeson, the Philadelphia upholsterer, in 1761 and 1764, and documented by two invoices dated 1762 and 1764, respectively. John Brown ordered both through the Philadelphia firm of Tench Francis and John Relfe, and paid £9/18/03 ½ for the chair ordered in 1761 and £11/13/11 for the second chair in 1764. The majority of the price for the latter was for the upholstery, with £3/20/0 of the cost for making the frame.
William MacPherson Hornor pictures a very similar walnut easy chair in Blue Book Philadelphia Furniture as "possibly Philadelphia's most significant design contribution ... illustrating complete artistic control of line particularly in the vertical horizontal roll of the arms resulting in a pronounced C-scroll terminating in the compass or balloon shaped seat" (1935, pl. xxvi). An additional example of the form with related stylistic details is in the collections of the Henry Francis Du Pont Winterthur Museum (see Joseph Downs, American Furniture, Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods, 1952, no. 85).