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Gothic Revival Mahoganized Oak Hall Chair

The Stanton Hall Master c. 1850

Probably the rarest and most fascinating of American Gothic Revival furniture is this extraordinary hall chair. With its extremely high-back and distinctive birdcage carved front legs and upright supports, this distinctive chair has become the icon of American Gothic Revival. Related to a set made in the mid-1850’s for Stanton Hall, the plantation home of Frederick Stanton in Natchez, Mississippi, the chair is part of a group of chairs obviously by the same maker. The few similar examples known are mostly in museum collections, and practically every museum with a significant American decorative arts collection possesses one of these hall chairs, or a related piece by the same cabinetmaker. Those institutions include: Winterthur, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Bybee Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [The latter two have large, asymmetrical high-backed sofas.] Recently conducted analysis suggests that most of these originally had a dark, mahoganized surface like the present example. The majority, however, have been refinished. Several of the related examples are also now lacking the attached pendant trefoils under the seat rails.

From the base of its birdcage pierced legs to the crocketed spires of its high-pinnacled top, this chair retains all of its original elements and finish. It may, therefore, be the best example known of this iconic form.