Armchair (English, French style), 1760-1774
Photo courtesy of Wyck...
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Photo courtesy of Wyck Association

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Photo courtesy of Wyck...
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This variety of upholstered open armchair is described in 18th-century documents as being in the "French cabriolet" style, with a serpentine wooden frame, arm terminals and supports, and legs. Its upholstered back is shield-shaped, and conforms somewhat to the shape of the sitter's back. Its broad seat is roughly horseshoe-shaped, swelling gently at the center front and outward at the sides. Its mahogany frame is exposed in a bead moulding that runs along the lower edge of the seat apron, joining the contours of the softly-curved front and rear cabriole legs in a continuous line. The moulded mahogany terminals of the armrests are exposed, carved in scrolls, and join serpentine-curved arm supports. The mahogany cabriole legs have low-relief fan-like carving at the front knees and scrolls at the feet. The chair appears to have been reupholstered and given greater padding, in a manner consistent with mid-Victorian taste; but the upholsterer followed the earlier fashion of outlining at least some of the chair's contours with rounded ornamental tacks.

In the Franklin Institute is another chair of the set, given to that institution in 1934; a third chair is in the collections of the Independence National Historical Park; and a fourth is in a private collection.

It is possible that this chair is related to the one illustrated in a late-19th century photograph taken at "Grumblethorpe," the Germantown home of the Wister family, which is now a historic site. That photograph shows Charles Jones Wister, Jr., the house's last occupant, seated in a chair that appears to resemble this one. Wister died in 1910.

This chair has a handwritten tag attached to the underside of the seat that says, "Franklin Chair used by General Lafayette at his reception at Wyck July 20, 1825."

Connection to Franklin
Believed owned by Franklin Terms of Use Credits