Peacock Armchair, 1950s
This is a armchair. It was designed by Hans J. Wegner and manufactured by PP Møbler and Johannes Hansen Møbelsnedkeri A/S. It is dated 1950s and we acquired it in 2011. Its medium is solid ash, rope cord, and teak. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.
Danish furniture designer Hans J. Wegner’s Peacock chair is a highly representative and influential work in the Danish modern style of minimalist wood furniture. The style began in the 1940s and was based on pure lines, an understanding of classical furniture craftsmanship, and an emphasis on natural materials and the proportions and requirements of the human body. Danish modern was quite fashionable among cosmopolitan Americans in the 1950s and 60s. Though of a thoroughly modern design, the Peacock chair is not without historical references, namely that of the Windsor chair, which dates to 18th-century England. Most notably, Wegner’s updated version incorporates the basic shape and traditional back of the Windsor chair.
Wegner learned to work with wood from a young age and became a cabinetmaker in 1932. He later moved to Copenhagen in 1938 to study design. He worked for Arne Jacobsen and Eric Møller before opening his own firm in 1943. He went on to design more than 500 chairs, making him the post prolific Danish designer of the 20th century.
Wegner never named his chairs. Instead, he allowed his colleagues or manufacturers to label them. This chair’s name came from Danish architect and industrial designer Finn Juhl (1912–1989), who dubbed it the Peacock chair because the sticks on the chair’s back evoke a peacock’s tail. The chair represents an ideal union of function and beauty: the flat part of the sticks are ergonomically placed where the shoulder blades meet the chair’s back, while also abstractly referencing a peacock’s plumage. The chair was initially manufactured by Johannes Hansen, who marked it with his firm’s brand.
At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum holds three chairs by Wegner. Acquiring the Peacock chair would create a more comprehensive representation of Wegner’s work and would provide a historical point of reference for Danish modern style within 20th-century furniture design. The chair also serves as an example of how a modern designer modifies an earlier design to suit contemporary needs.
This object was
Paul L. Herring.
It is credited
From the collection of Jon N. Streep, given in his memory.
Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 109 x 77 x 54 cm (42 15/16 x 30 5/16 x 21 1/4 in.)
It has the following markings
Stamped on underside of seat: "JOHANNES HANSEN COPENHAGEN DENMARK"
Cite this object as
Peacock Armchair, 1950s; Designed by Hans J. Wegner (Danish, 1914–2007); Denmark; solid ash, rope cord, and teak; H x W x D: 109 x 77 x 54 cm (42 15/16 x 30 5/16 x 21 1/4 in.); 2011-35-1