Maryland or possibly Philadelphia
Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of H. Rodney Sharp1958.3290
The bottom 2 inches of the rear legs has been restored. The slip seat is a replacement.
Ex coll. H. Rodney Sharp
This armchair is a reminder of the uncertainties in furniture scholarship. It has many decorative and structural features associated with Philadelphia work, but several modest departures suggest it might have originated outside Philadelphia, probably in Maryland. Furniture historians regularly redefine the distinctions between those two bodies of furniture; historical evidence documenting Maryland furniture remains scant.
The strapwork splat is typical of early Philadelphia Chippendale chairs, as are the arms, the stump rear legs, through-tenons, eared crest with a shell carved in the center, shell on the front seat rail, and acanthus-carved cabriole legs ending in ball-and-claw feet. The small departures include details of the crest shell, which incorporates a floral composition across the bottom. The crest rail ears extend a bit farther outward than the norm. The shell on the front seat rail has noticeably pointed flanges in the upper corners. The richly carved acanthus on the legs does not carry over onto the flanking knee brackets. This last feature may represent early carving composition, since similar positioning of the leafage can be found on some compass-seat chairs.
The armchair retains the wood strips applied around the inside of the seat frame that were intended to hold a wood deck for a chamber pot. These strips are made of mahogany and molded--probably scraps lying around the shop from an earlier project. Appropriate to this function, the chair has no chair number chiseled into it, suggesting that it was made as a single chair originally and not part of a larger set.