The chair represents a pattern made in Rhode Island during the Colonial period with rounded crest rails, “pretzel” back strap work splats, compass-shaped seats with flat arches, front cabriole legs with plain knees, block-and-turned stretchers, front claw feet and rectangular slightly flared rear legs. The unusual splat pattern derives from designs published in The Gentleman & Cabinet-Maker’s Director by Thomas Chippendale, who may have been influenced by the work of De La Cour, a French engraver working in England between 1741 and 1747.2
Several additional sets of side chairs associated with John Goddard displaying closely related claw feet and single scrolled volutes as seen here closely relate to the present chair. Two side chairs formerly in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eddy Nicholson stem from one set.3 A second nearly identical set differing in downward curling scrolls cut to form, rather than carved, is represented by six side chairs with a history in the family of Stephen Hopkins, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of Rhode Island and side chairs at Chipstone and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 4 Others include a set of six chairs from the Walter B. Guy Collection, 5 one formerly in the collection of Israel Sack,6 and a side chair in the Karolik Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.7
1 Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport (Tenafly, NJ, 1984), pp. 210-11.
2 Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman & Cabinet-Maker’s Director, London, 1762, p. XVI.
3 See Christie’s, The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eddy Nicholson, January 27-28, 1995, sale 8082, lot 1089.
4 See Christie’s, Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art and Decorative Arts, January 17-18, 1992, sale 7398, lot 426, Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (Madison, 1984), no. 52, pp. 122-3, and Morrison Heckscher, et al., “Anatomy of an Acquisition: Treasures from the Ann and Philip Holzer Collection,” The Magazine Antiques (August 2001): fig. 1, p. 191.
5 Sold at Christie’s, January 18, 1992, lot 426.
6 Moses, fig. 1.49, p. 58.
7 Edwin Hipkiss, Eighteenth-Century American Arts: The M. and M. Karolik Collection (Boston, 1950), no. 80, p. 143.
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