Banister-back chair

Date: 1715–35

Geography: Possibly made in Massachusetts, United States; Possibly made in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Maple

Dimensions: 47 1/2 x 21 x 15 3/4 in. (120.7 x 53.3 x 40 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Screven Lorillard, 1952

Accession Number: 52.195.8


The unusual carved crest rail, banister back, cane seat, and “Spanish” front feet combine to make this one of the most dynamic examples of the William and Mary–style banister-back side chair. The carving on the crest rail is reminiscent of engraved cartouches on contemporary silver, which were indebted to strapwork ornament found in European Baroque design sources. The back’s split banisters were made by gluing together two pieces of wood, shaping the block on a lathe, and then separating it into two pieces again.