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Fancy side chair (one of a set of eight)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Probably John Watham


32 1/2 x 17 7/8 in x 16 3/8 in


Tulip poplar,* (crest rail), basswood* (front seat rail), and maple* (legs, front stretcher)

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation

Accession Number


Condition Notes

The paint is original but worn and abraded on all eight chairs.


The set of chairs has an oral tradition of ownership in the Tasig family of Philadelphia and of being an 1836 wedding gift of an uncle, John Pattensen, who may have been the chairmaker John W. Patterson. The set was purchased by Winterthur from antiques dealer John C. Newcomer of Maryland.


Contemporary terms for this side chair describe it as a “scalloped-top fancy chair.”  The chair back features a large and colorfully painted basket of fruit.  The other chair parts are grain-painted with highlighting of gold bands and striping.  The gently rolled back and in-curved front legs signaled the “Grecian” style, derived from designs of classical antiquity.  A basket of fruit on a back panel of conforming shape highlights the painted design.  The crest rail features another fruit basket in the center, flanked by tight coils that unroll to become acanthus leaves similar to carved mahogany crest rails.  The front stretcher displays more Grecian style leafage and ornament.

Windsor historian Nancy Goyne Evans suggests this set of chairs may have been made by John W. Patterson, whose name derives from an oral tradition.  To say that that Patterson was the Philadelphia chairmaker is speculative, given the multiple people by that name.  Evans observes that certain features resemble Baltimore work in the central back panel, the front stretcher, and its painted ornament.  Patterson, the Philadelphia chairmaker, worked in Baltimore for some six years before moving to Philadelphia about 1817.

Chair 1985.56.8 was photographed.


Nancy Goyne Evans, “Design Sources for Windsor Furniture, Part 2: The Early Nineteenth Century,” Antiques 133, no. 5 (May 1988): 1141.

Evans, American Windsor Chairs, 145, fig. 3–139.

Nancy Goyne Evans, “Frog Backs and Turkey Legs: The Nomenclature of Vernacular Seating Furniture, 1740-1850,” in American Furniture 1996, ed. Luke Beckerdite, 50–51 (Milwaukee, Wis.: Chipstone Foundation, 1996).

Cynthia V.A. Schaffner and Susan Klein, American Painted Furniture, 1790–1880 (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997), 42, fig. 2.8.

Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 165-166.