Lejambre Dining Chairs (Set of 11)
A. & H. Lejambre [signed] (active 1865-c.1907)
Philadelphia c. 1875-1880
Large sets of American dining chairs in the English Reform style are extremely rare, and ones signed by important cabinetmakers of the era are rarer yet. Retaining the original paper labels of the distinguished Philadelphia firm A. & H. Lejambre, these handsome, sturdy and useful examples are quite comfortable, their padded and upholstered leather seats and backs being a quite unusual feature on chairs of this period.
Inspired by designs of English Reform Movement architect Bruce Talbert (1838-1881), this set of eleven oak side chairs features chamfered and stop-reeded incised detailing on all of their leg, back and seat supports, as well as a carved, central stylized floral panel on their crest rails. With their rectilinear profile and simple, stylized detailing, these chairs – along with a chest at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – are some of the only documented pieces by A. & H. Lejambre done in the Reform taste.
The intentionally understated character of these finely crafted pieces presages much later developments in American Arts and Crafts furniture and underscores the sophistication and significance of the Lejambre family of cabinetmakers. Retaining their original finish, as well as all of their original casters and, of course, their maker’s labels, these extraordinary chairs are as important to the study of American decorative arts as they are useful.