1848
American
Rosewood, walnut, pine, and ash, with rosewood veneer; reproduction upholstery (1997)
New York, New York, United States
Overall: 42 3/4 × 18 1/4 × 20 in. (108.59 × 46.36 × 50.8 cm)
79.3

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.

Mary Morton Parsons Fund for American Decorative Arts
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 38, p. 112-116).
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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