Naylor Antiques

Early American Furnishings

Chippendale Mahogany Armchair, Annapolis or Baltimore, c.1790

an American Chippendale carved mahogany armchair; c.1790; almost certainly Maryland, probably Annapolis or Baltimore; admittedly, due to the overall “English-ness” of the design, Norfolk is also a remote possibility (over any of the more rural, interior Virginia alternatives); the furniture produced in all three cities, to varying degrees, epitomized the Mid-Atlantic’s effort to meld the stylistic requirements of the English tradition, so familiar to the region, with the most up-to-date, requisite Philadelphia aesthetic disseminated from the north; based on geographical propensities, one might generalize that Norfolk was under a greater, more direct British influence; Baltimore, being closer in proximity, was under a greater Philadelphia influence, and Annapolis was both literally and stylistically, somewhere in the middle; the accentuated curves of the crest rail, the abbreviated overhang of the arm terminals (somewhere between a non-extending English elbow rest and a fully resolved Philadelphia scrolled volute over “crescent” or “spoon” arm stile), the provincial carving of only the inner arm volutes, the simple scratch beading of the rear seat rail in lieu of a splat shoe, the heavy chamfering of the legs, an absence of rear rail through-tenons, and the restrained but competent carving of the crest rail ears, a subtle nod to high style Philadelphia, all support a Maryland origin; the use of vertical splat “fingers”, augmented both visually and structurally with a central “chevron” batten, has been associated with many examples of later Federal chairs associated with both Annapolis and Baltimore; the primary reason for an Annapolis over Baltimore attribution (or perhaps an Annapolis chair maker transplanted to Baltimore) is based on historians’ observations that by 1790, Annapolis was experiencing its’ waning days of furniture production relevancy and was thus, perhaps more likely to retain vestiges of its’ Chippendale tradition, as compared to its’ more prolific and now primarily Federal design producing neighbor to the north; the chair is in excellent condition with an older finish; the yellow pine slip seat is original; the substantialness of this thicker seat frame, together with a stouter “H” stretcher construction, could account for the possibility that the four modern corner blocks are simply 20th Century additions rather than replacements; no corner glue blocks were removed to examine for evidence underneath; the double pegging of the front leg joints appears to be very old, possibly even 18th Century, but probably not original; there is a 1″ patch to a chip in the foot of the proper back right leg; the seat is presently upholstered in a salmon “Satyr” horsehair fabric from Emil Rotter, Berlin; dimensions: 38 1/4″ tall @ crest rail x 23 1/2″ wide @ front rail x 22″ depth overall


a naive emulation of a Philadelphia scrolled arm

a token of rococo carving on the crest rail

The absence of a splat shoe on a carved mahogany Chippendale chair, a rare omission generally only seen on more rural, local wood examples (and almost always with the splat tenoned into a lower back cross rail rather than seat rail), is pointedly indicative of a knowledgeable, nonetheless less sophisticated craftsman.  This also strongly suggests the maker was probably well aware of the back rail treatment of many Maryland Federal “shield-back” chairs not requiring a splat shoe, further supporting a dating of the armchair to as late as 1800.

a Baltimore Queen Anne/Chippendale transitional commode armchair, die impressed “R. MACKLE BALT(I)MORE“; by 1817, R. Mackle was documented as making chairs in Boston, using the same die impression, but with “R. MACKLE BOSTON” to mark his work (Susan Stuart, The Magazine Antiques, June 1999

Furniture in Maryland, 1740-1940; Weidman, Gregory R., The Maryland Historical Society

American Furniture 1680-1880; Elder and Stokes, The Baltimore Museum of Art

Furniture in Maryland, 1740-1940; Weidman, Gregory R., The Maryland Historical Society


a less than successful mimicking of the Philadelphia scrolled arm

a very successful Virginia copy of the Philadelphia scrolled arm

Brunk Auctions March 2019

textbook Philadelphia example with all the trimmings, John Nicholson Auctioneers

a fully resolved English example of similar design, New Orleans Auction Galleries

another George III armchair with a Maryland history of ownership in the family of John Gilman D’Arcy Paul, Baltimore (more fully executed carving and splat shoe included)