Interest in the Middle Ages emerged in early 19th-century Europe as part of the Romantic era’s fascination with the past. By the 1830s, medieval themes also made an appearance in American literature, music, art, architecture, and the decorative arts.
This striking side chair was part of a ten-piece drawing room suite produced for Philip St. George Cocke’s Gothic Revival plantation manor, Belmead, in Powhatan County, Virginia. Designed by the renowned New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis, the residence was among the South’s first to be built in the “pointed style.” Gothic motifs in the house – crenellation and tracery patterns – are duly echoed in this chair, also attributed to Davis. The eclecticism of American taste, however, permitted the mixing of stylistic elements. The floral ornament atop the chair’s crest rail suggests the competing influence of the Rococo Revival.
Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.