Pair Klismos-form Armchairs, about 1820
Attributed to Issac Vose & Son, Boston (active 1819–25), about 1820
Mahogany (secondary woods: birch [slip seats] and maple [chair frames])
32 1/16 in. high, 20 3/4 in. wide, 20 1/2 in. deep (overall)
Pairs of chairs of this form are extremely rare in the canon of American Neo-Classical furniture. With their sweeping sabre legs, their boldy drawn scrolled arms, and their carved crest rails and unusual backsplats, they stand at the top of production of chairs of this genre.
Stylistically, they are closest to a set of chairs made for Stephen Salisbury for his home in Worcester, Massachusetts, which are now in the collection of the Worcester Art Museum. An armchair from the Salisbury set is published in Page Talbott, “Seating Furniture in Boston, 1810–1835” (The Magazine Antiques CXXXIX [May 1991]), p. 965 Pl. XIII. Although the carving is not identical, it is precisely of the same style, and is likely by the same hand. Indeed, the Salisbury chairs—and other Salisbury furniture—is documented to the shop of Isaac Vose of Boston through written correspondence between the Vose shop and a member of the Salisbury family, and it is possible—even likely—that the present pair of chairs is also from the same shop. (For more on Vose furniture owned by the Salisbury family, see Stuart P. Feld, Boston in the Age of Neo-Classicism, 1810–1840, exhib. cat. [New York: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, 1999], pp. 20–21).
These chairs are also very close to a single armchair of the same form (formerly with Artemis Gallery, North Salem, New York), with identical sabre legs, scrolled arms, carved crest rail of the same pattern, and a backsplat with the same pair of horizontal wooden members, but now without, or possibly missing, the carving between.