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Object Timeline

-0001

1937

  • We acquired this object.

2001

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2019

  • You found it!

Side Chair (USA), 1855–70

This is a Side chair. It is dated 1855–70 and we acquired it in 1937. Its medium is carved laminated and steamed rosewood veneer, oak (frame), silk upholstery (not original). It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This side chair, formerly attributed to German-born American cabinetmaker John Henry Belter, illustrates the intricate, sensual design and curving back for which Belter was known and others imitated. In mid-nineteenth-century America, immigrant cabinetmakers were revitalizing aspects of decades- or even centuries-old European styles, such as the eighteenth-century French Louis XV rococo style with new techniques and new motifs. Rococo revival’s bold, undulating lines and luxurious materials—like this chair’s rosewood veneer—were emblematic of wealthy, fashionable mid-nineteenth-century American taste. While Belter received four patents for his innovative manufacturing techniques, others took advantage of them to produce similarly-styled works. These patents included improvements on bending wood laminated across grains – turning the otherwise brittle rosewood into a sturdy material – and a jigsaw apparatus that could intricately carve out backs, resulting in elegant, complicated designs of scrolls and floral motifs, such as those seen on this chair by a skilled follower or rival.

This object was catalogued by Calvin S. Hathaway. It is credited Gift of Mrs. Edwin Gould.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 97 x 50.5 x 58 cm (38 3/16 x 19 7/8 x 22 13/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Side Chair (USA), 1855–70; carved laminated and steamed rosewood veneer, oak (frame), silk upholstery (not original); H x W x D: 97 x 50.5 x 58 cm (38 3/16 x 19 7/8 x 22 13/16 in.); Gift of Mrs. Edwin Gould; 1937-4-2

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Rococo: The Continuing Curve 1730-2008.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18344863/ |title=Side Chair (USA), 1855–70 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 March 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>