Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Artifact: Side Chair

As shown in this chair, made in Philadelphia in 1808, the so-called Klismos form is distinguished by front and rear legs that curve inwards and directly mimics ancient Greek chairs as seen on pottery. The draped upholstery softens the severe lines.  Benjamin Henry Latrobe designed this chair, other furniture, and a house at Seventh and Chestnut Streets for William and Mary Waln.  The Greek influences helped to build Philadelphia’s reputation as the “Athens of America” or “Athens of the Western World.”

Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art. Side Chair Made in Philadelphia, 1808, designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, American (born England), 1764-1820. Decorated by George Bridport, American (born England), 1783 -1819. Gessoed, painted and gilded tulipwood and maple, gilded metal mounts, silk upholstery 34 1/4 x 20 x 20 inches. Purchased with the gift (by exchange) of Mrs. Alex Simpson, Jr., and A. Carson Simpson, and with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Raley and various donors, 1986.

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