Pair Gothic Revival Armchairs, about 1835
American, probably New York
Walnut (secondary woods: ashy, cherry, and pine)
37 in. high, 23 7/8 in. wide, 22 3/4 in. deep (overall)
EXHIBITED: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 2011–12, The World of Duncan Phyfe: The Arts of New York, 1800–1847, p. 87 no. 43 illus. 87
Although furniture in the Neo-Classical taste has been the subject of various exhibitions over the years–both the intensive views of Classical America at The Newark Museum in 1963 and Classical Taste in America, organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1993, as well as the inclusion of significant sections devoted to the subject in the Metropolitan Museum's 19th Century America in 1970 and In Praise of America at the National Gallery in 1980, and, most recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's monographic exhibition and catalogue of the work of Charles-Honoré Lannuier, and its Duncan Phyfe exhibition in 2011-12–Gothic furniture in America has not been the subject of much focus since the Houston Museum's landmark exhibition, The Gothic Revival Style in America, 1830-1870, in 1976, and Hirschl & Adler exhibition in 2006.
This pair of Gothic easy chairs, essentially modeled on the form of a French Empire fauteuil, is a new discovery, but a careful review of the bibliography of American furniture of the first half of the 19th century reveals that the renowned architect/antiquarian/collector, Edward Vason Jones, used several pairs of chairs of this design in various of his projects. A set of six chairs was acquired for the Mississippi Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1974, with an attribution to the New York cabinetmaker Alexander Roux (1813-1886), about 1840, of which four are on exhibit in the Mansion Foyer, and two in the Upstairs Sitting Hall (see William R. Mitchell, Jr., Edward Vason Jones–Architect, Connoisseur, and Collector [Martin-St. Martin Publishing Company, 1995], pp. 180, 182 illus., and Helen Cain and Anne D. Czarniecki, An Illustrated Guide to the Mississippi Governor's Mansion [Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1984], p. 25 illus. one chair in the foyer).
In his treatise on Jones, William R. Mitchell, Jr., also shows a pair of identical chairs in the home of Jones’s daughter, Jeanette Balling in Uniontown, Pennsylvania (p. 203). A third chair is also shown in the Green parlor of Jones's own home in Albany, Georgia (p. 76).
Although the form of chairs such as these had not changed much in a quarter century, the addition of three Gothic trefoils and three Gothic arches in the crest rail and the "Gothic" carving on the arms brings these chairs stylistically into the 1830's.
No meaningful attribution for the chairs can be made at this time, but it is very possible that they originated in the shop of Alexander Roux (1813-1886) or Charles Baudouine (1808-1895), both skillful cabinetmakers working in New York.