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A Period Turned Great-Chair with Oversized Pommels
New London County, Connecticut, Circa 1700
A Classic Example of Early Connecticut Craftsmanship - SOLD
Maple and ash, great red painted surface

A Period Turned Great-Chair with Oversized Pommels
New London County, Connecticut, Circa 1700
A Classic Example of Early Connecticut Craftsmanship
Maple and ash, great red painted surface, entire view

Although the Heart and Crown Collection New London County turned chair has sustained some damage
and loss, it retains the characteristics that define its type. The slats retain their original elaborate,
shaped profiles that are lost or damaged on many other examples. The posts have been extended 3”
below the original lower stretchers. The finials are intact other than the replacement of a small section
of their rounded front faces that were removed to accommodate a horizontal brace accommodating
early upholstery. An ancient loss of approximately 40% of the proper-left handgrip has been expertly
restored. The splint seat is exceedingly old and may date to the 18th-century. The red paint is probably
of 18th-century origin. Extensive tool marks are visible beneath this pigment, indicating that the chair
has never been refinished or heavily cleaned. One of the side rails projects through the back-post. This
is not evidence of damage or restoration. When the chair was made, the turner miss-bored the mortise
for the seat-rail and drilled entirely through the post. Rather than abandoning the post, he simply drove
a wedge through the protruding back end of the seat-rail to secure it in place.

A nearly identical chair is in the collection of Winterthur Museum and is illustrated in American Seating
Furniture, 1630-1730, p. 126, catalog entry 15.

A group of some thirty highly distinctive, slat-back turned great chairs represent the single largest
recognizable group of 17th-century New England chairs. Although varying slightly in design and
execution, the chairs are configured with impressive lemon-shaped finials, posts turned with deep urns,
and heavy sequences of incised lines. The deeply scored barrel-form arms are set in angled mortises,
raking sharply from back to front. Three slats designed with upper edges shaped with the profile of
opposing brackets form the back. Instead of the ball-form handgrips common on 17th-century turned-
chairs, the front-posts terminate in massive pommels that often exceed the diameter of the posts by
300%. This latter feature constitutes the most iconic diagnostic trait and an indication of the high value
of these chairs when new as the added work involved in their creation substantially increased labor
and cost.
Many of the chairs were discovered in the Eastern Connecticut towns of New London, Norwich,
Colchester, Lebanon, and Preston under circumstances that indicate that they had yet to reach antique
status when they were found, it is unlikely that they had not strayed far from their point of
manufacture. The stylistic elements of the New London County chairs deviate substantially from 17th-
century English chair design practice. The extravagant finials and shaped slats are far more consistent
with Dutch turning tradition. Although no craftsmen of Dutch descent have been documented in
Eastern Connecticut, the possibility exists that a yet unidentified artisan from the Nederland’s may have
been living and working in the vicinity of New London. This chair is an emblematic example of the
group, possessing the full set of highly recognizable structural and ornamental traits.
(Height: 45.75”; Seat Height: 16.75”; Width: 24.5”; Depth: 18.5”)



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