A small group of Philadelphia Queen Anne compass seat armchairs are known and variations within the design of extant examples illustrate the options available for the form. Chairs of this type could be made with crests with paired or single volutes flanking the shell, baluster or fiddle back splats, rounded or flat stiles, knees with shell or leaf carving, and trifid, pad or claw and ball feet. This chair does not fit into an existing set but is similar to a pair of walnut armchairs at Winterthur Museum with an additional pair of volutes on the crest rail and C scroll knee returns.2 A very closely related walnut armchair of the same design but with volute-carved knee returns and claw feet descended in the family of Joshua Humphreys, the shipbuilder of Southwark. It is currently in the collection of Independence National Historical Park.3
A Philadelphia side chair also offered in this sale is similar but differs in displaying trifid feet and a blocked seat rail. One of walnut with a plain seat rail and trifid feet is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.4 A side chair made of walnut with paneled pad feet sold in these rooms, Property of Rear Admiral Edward P. Moore and Barbara Bingham Moore, September 26, 2008, sale 8446, lot 60. An armchair possibly from the same set as the Moore Collection chair is in a private collection and illustrated as a “masterpiece” in Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture, New York, 1993, p. 29. Other related walnut chairs with a baluster splat include an armchair with trifid feet at the Milwaukee Art Museum, a side chair with claw and ball feet at Yale University, and a set with trifid feet comprised of an armchair and six side chairs at the State Department, Chipstone and the Kaufman Collection.5
1 Accession no. 38.1928.45.
2 See Joseph Downs, American Furniture, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1952, no. 29.
3 See John C. Miley, ed., Treasures of Independence: Independence National Historic Park and Its Collections (New York, 1980), no. XL.
4 See Morrison Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 38, p. 82-4.
5 See Brock Jobe, et al, American Furniture with Related Decorative Arts, 1660-1830, The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Layton Art Collection, New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1991, no. 43, pp. 115-6, Patricia Kane, 300 Years of American Seating Furniture, Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976, no. 62, pp. 82-4, and Clement Conger and Alexandra Rollins, Treasures of State, New York: Harry Abrams, 1991, no. 7, pp. 86-7.
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