During my visit to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., last week I got to examine a few interesting chairs (surprise!). This little black number from Franklin County (likely Frankfort), was one of my favorites.
Built about 1815 from poplar and other woods, the chair features simple bamboo turnings and an almost-circular seat. Some of the details I particularly like:
- The feet taper like the neck of an upside-down Coke bottle. This leg shape is something I see on a lot of Kentucky post-and-rung chairs from the mountains. (Note: I’m sure this shape is also found elsewhere – I just come across it a bunch here.) Chester Cornett’s simpler chairs have a similar, but much more dramatic, curved taper.
- I like the tilted armrests. So often the armrests are horizontal to the seat, which can be a bit dull. I have no idea how these feel to the body in service (too many watchful guards…).
- And I adore the little black patch on the end of the worn armrests. Why is this paint not worn away? I wondered if there was some sort of dark wood plug inset into the end of the armrest. All I saw was paint. The wear pattern is unexpected – I’d expect the front to be quite worn.
Anyway, this wasn’t my favorite chair at the Speed. Perhaps another time.
— Christopher Schwarz