Side Chair

Designer: Designed by Alexander Jackson Davis (American, New York 1803–1892 West Orange, New Jersey)

Maker: Possibly by Burns and Brother

Date: ca. 1857

Geography: Made in New York, New York, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Black walnut; replacement underupholstery and showcover

Dimensions: 39 5/8 x 18 1/2 x 18 in. (100.6 x 47 x 45.7 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Jane B. Davies, in memory of Lyn Davies, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.111


This delicate yet animated side chair is a masterful example of the Gothic Revival style. It has a beautifully composed back of open tracery and slender legs that spring from feet that resemble diminutive deer's hooves. Davis, one of the preeminent architects of nineteenth-century America, worked in other revival styles as well as Gothic. Sometimes he provided the interior and the exterior details of a house and, unlike most architects of the period, Davis also occasionally supplied furniture designs to select clients. This walnut chair is a version of a design he made about 1857 for John J. Herrick, the owner of a castle by Davis that once stood in Tarrytown, New York. A few chairs have survived that can be firmly documented to Herrick's castle; all of them are of the same design as ours but are made of oak and are slightly heavier in scale. Our chair my have been made for the same house or by the same furniture maker for another Davis commission. Although its exact origin remains unclear, the chair is one of the Museum's finest examples of Gothic Revival furniture. In addition, it complements the Museum's important archive of architectural drawings by Davis.