American Queen Anne Sidechair, John Elliott, 1750
This coveted chair combines two virtues: European gracefulness and American sturdiness. Though Queen Anne was the reigning British monarch just before this time (and independence was still more than a quarter-century away for the colony), this chair, commonly made from walnut or mahogany, also incorporates the influence of Dutch craftsmen who moved to the New World. The carving, a shell motif, is simple yet beautiful, and the seat and legs are wider than usual. Imagine the women’s fashions of the time and you’ll realize how perfectly this chair accommodated its guests. Ladies in voluminous dresses with huge bustles on each hip might not have been comfortable in their corsets but would have been more at ease perched on these generous seats.
Louis XV Fauteil, 1755
When you hear the words “Louis the 15th fauteuil,” this armchair is the lovely specimen in question. You can recognize it immediately by its curved back, delicate lines and the fact that it looks like it’s wearing elegant elbow patches on its shapely arms. It is perhaps the most classic and best known of French antique chairs, originating in the era of King Louis XV. The king and his influential commoner mistress, Madame de Pompadour, were lovers of not only each other but also of fine, comfortable furnishings like this versatile and relatively light chair. With its pretty carvings of elements like baskets, flowers and ribbons, it stands in contrast to the chunky furniture of the previous era.
George III Faux Bamboo Open Armchair, 1775
If there is any chair that looks as utterly sophisticated yet welcoming as this faux bamboo armchair, we have yet to see it. Crafted from mahogany or walnut, these chairs belong to the Georgian era of furnishings, a movement from England that exalted airiness, spaciousness and delicacy. While the look of exotic bamboo was much desired in the era before easy travel, real bamboo was not used in chair production in England at the time. This fast-growing grass would have had to be imported from Asia and was not durable enough for the relatively cold and wet English climate.