Plate X L I Extension Diningtable

The type of chair which is earliest in style, if not in point of date, is that in which the Sheraton influence is strongest. This type has the horseshoe-shaped seat, with two straight reeded legs in front and with back legs gently curved, continuing the line of the back posts.

In this type, the known variations are as follows: The horseshoe seat is reeded as are the back posts, the crossbars of the back, and the front legs which terminate in small brass lions' feet below the characteristic baluster turning at the bottom. The two diagonal crossbars are reeded and an oval rosette marks the .crossing. The upper back panel is carved with the "thunderbolt" or wheat design. (Plate I.) A second variation has a double-crossing of four reeded diagonal bars with two rosettes. (Plate II.) A third variation differing slightly from the others retains the horseshoe seat with reeded edge and the same curves of the back posts and top panel. It is distinguished by the employment of curved bars in the back edged by half-round fillets and joined by a small eight-sided rosette. Its legs, rectangular in plan and set at a 45° angle, are gentle reverse curves with the fronts carved in acanthus. They end in brass lions' feet. The carved top panel of the back has the laurel pattern. (Plate II.)

The full Directoire influence is seen in the easy, flowing lines of the second type of chair. The decorative elements which are combined in this are the lyre, the dog's foot, the carved slat, the acanthus, reeding, and plain panels. There are numerous combinations which were made—the lyre back with dog's foot or acanthus legs, the carved slat back with both of these legs, and both of these backs with moulded front legs. The curve of the back posts is not continuous, breaking slightly at the junction of the seat rails with the line flowing more definitely into the seat than into the back legs. The front of the back posts and upper side of the side seat rails are reeded, the front seat rail is reeded below the loose, upholstered seat. The top panel of the back is uncarved but veneered with elaborately grained wood, although one example has this member fluted. The front legs are cut in a gentle concave curve. The lyres and carved slats are of the type described in the preceding chapter. Small turned buttons cover the ends of the tenons of the front seat rail and the top panel of the back.

A third general type of chair exhibits the introduction of Empire influence in the legs which are composed of double reverse curves, crossed in the centre, plain or reeded, and ending in brass lions' feet. Of this type two arrangements of legs occur, one with the curved legs on both sides joined with a turned stretcher, the other with the curved legs at the front and the usual square legs at the back. (Plate XIII.) In the latter the stretcher from the crossing of the curves runs back to join a stretcher between the two back legs. The top back panel in chairs of this type is usually carved with laurel. The meeting of the intersecting curves of the legs is marked by either a turned button or a lion's mask. The backs of the type are filled with either curved or diagonal bars.

These are the three general types of chair from point of view of form. A few exceptions occur, however, which are simply different combinations of elements included among those already mentioned. An armchair of each of these three types is illustrated. The first, with reverse-curved acanthus legs, reeded horseshoe seat, curved back bars and laurel panel, matches a similar side chair. (Plate III.) The second, with concave moulded legs, reeded arms and back posts, has an eight-sided panel in the centre of the slat supported by carved scrolls. The panel is surrounded by a flat raised band. The material is curly mahogany. (Plate B, Fig. 8.) The third armchair has the crossed reverse curves at the side joined by a turned stretcher. It has curved back bars and laurel panel at top. The illustration of this chair shows also a footstool made as part of the same drawing-room set from which the chair comes. (Plate XI.)

The arms of the first and third types are curved and rest upon turned balusters, in one case reeded. It is the same arrangement as the Phyfe sofa arm and is Sheraton in derivation. The arm of the second type of chair is set on a scroll.

In all of these chairs the top line of the back dips down in a curve which adds to comfort as well as beauty, while the decoration is combined in many ways and undoubtedly was used in other combinations in chairs which have not come down to us.

The little window benches are more closely related to chairs than they are to sofas. The arms are simply reduced replicas, in line and detail, of the chair backs. The handsomest one is that with the laurel-leaf pattern in 'the top panel above the curved bars. The little urn-form at the base of the posts is carved with water-leaf ornament and the legs, ending in brass lions' feet, are enriched by the acanthus. A second bench has no carving except the small rosette at the crossing of the back bars, while a third has the upper panel fluted to match the chairs of the same set. One very fine bench rests upon the dog feet, its rails are carved into panels of drapery, and its seat and arms are upholstered.

A number of chairs, similar in form to the second type which we have described, were made in New York with a slat entirely carved with cornucopiae or fruit and flowers. So far as we know, Phyfe did not make any chairs of this sort, at least in his best period. The distinguishing marks of the Phyfe chairs are their lines and proportion; the presence of reeding (in his later chairs reeding was at times replaced by moulding); the gentle sag of the top of the back; the outward splay of the side rails which are never parallel; and lastly the decoration by carving, reeding, moulding, panelling, or turning, in his accustomed designs.

The material is always mahogany, in some cases curly mahogany. The strings of the lyre are brass or whalebone, the key handles and tips of ebony. The seats are either loose, upholstered ones held in place by screws, or they are caned. The latter were covered by loose, squab cushions.

These, then, are the three main types of chairs with their variations which the illustrations will present more clearly than any verbal description.

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