Armchair (English, French style), ca. 1765
Photo by Thomas Heller,...
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Photo by Thomas Heller, 2006 (reupholstered)

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Photo by Peter Harholdt,...
Stripped during conservation
Detail of arm (before...
Detail of leg (before...
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Upholstered armchair in the French "cabriolet" style, with wooden frame, exposed arm terminals and uprights, and legs. Its padded back is shield-shaped, and conforms somewhat to the sitter's back. The over-upholstered frame is of beech, now extensively rebuilt using ash.

Its broad seat is roughly horseshoe-shaped, swelling gently at the center front. The mahogany terminals and uprights of the arms are carved in soft scrolling curves, and the horizontal armrests are padded. There is a slender band of exposed moulded mahogany framing around the skirts of the seat that extends down the four legs. The mahogany legs are very slightly cabriole, with low-relief fanlike carving at the knees and scrolls at the feet.

Independence National Historical Park acquired another chair in this group/set/suite in late 1975. A third chair is in the collection of descendents of Mary Stevenson.

In the collections of Grumblethorpe, the historic home of the Wister family in Germantown, Pennsylvania, is a photograph of Charles Jones Wister, Jr., the last of the family to live in the house, seated on a chair that resembles the "Franklin" chairs so closely that researchers for this database speculated it might be a fourth chair of the same set. In the photograph, the chair seat has been given springs; it is upholstered in a plush fabric; and binding has been applied over the knee of the front cabriole leg. The photograph was taken in Grumblethorpe's West Parlor sometime before Wister's death in 1910; the chair is no longer at Grumblethorpe.

However, Elizabth Solomon, a member of the staff at Wyck, the historic home of the Haines family in Germantown, has reported that there is a 19th-century record of "Molly Donaldson" bequeathing two chairs with a Franklin history, one to Grumblethorpe and one to Wyck.

The chairs of this set may have come from the furniture rooms of London chairmaker John Cobb. The research and writing of this entry was aided greatly by several colleagues, among them Thomas Heller, Catherine Coho, Annabel Westman, Danielle Grosheide, Jeffrey Munger, and Charles Hardy.

Connection to Franklin
Believed owned by Franklin Terms of Use Credits