Armchair, ca. 1768
Attributed to Thomas Affleck (American, born Scotland, 1740–1795)
Mahogany and white oak with modern yellow silk upholstery; 40 x 27 3/8 x 25 5/8 in. (101.6 x 69.5 x 65.1 cm)
Purchase, John Stewart Kennedy Fund and Rogers Fund, by exchange, 2007 (2007.302a–c)
The true glory of the Museum's collection of eighteenth-century Philadelphia furniture is the handful of richly carved pieces showing the direct influence of the third edition (1762) of The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker's Director, Thomas Chippendale's famous furniture pattern book. Each piece is emblematic of the particular dynamic of the furniture trade in that colonial city during the 1760s and 1770s, when it was a haven for skilled and ambitious London-trained artisans anxious for personal independence and home to a clientele desirous of the latest London style but insistent upon local manufacture.
Thus it is a pleasure to add to that group an example from the most famous set of Philadelphia seating furniture, the stately and superbly carved open-arm chairs almost certainly made for John Penn, grandson of William and the last governor of colonial Pennsylvania, by Thomas Affleck. Penn, recently minted as governor, arrived in Philadelphia in 1763. He married Ann Allen, daughter of Chief Justice William Allen, in 1766 and purchased a grand house on Third Street in 1768. Affleck, who had moved from Scotland to London 1760, also arrived in Philadelphia in 1763, a copy of Chippendale under his arm. Its plate 19, two "French Chairs," was the inspiration for the masterful chairs he made for Penn.