Skip to main content
Search the Collection

Fancy side chair (one of a set of four)

Probably Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1820-1835

Measurements

33 in x 18 in x 18 1/2 in

Materials

Maple and unidentified hardwoods, rush seats

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation

Accession Number

1981.71

Inscription

One chair (71.1) has “MFJ” written on an early twentieth-century “jelly label” affixed to the inside front of left rear leg immediately below the rush seat. Another chair (71.2) has a label with “MJH” attached to the inside of the front seat casing. Chair 1981.72 has “J Janvier” in pencil written on the inside of the right seat casing.

Condition Notes

Three of the four chairs survive in excellent condition, including original rush seats. The fourth chair (1981.72) has very worn paint. The rush seat has the same weave as the other three seats but is later. The rush appears coarser, and the seat casings have been reattached at least once.

Provenance

The four side chairs were purchased from the estate of Miss Margaret Janvier Hort; she had said that the set had been owned by Thomas Janvier (1772–1852) of New Castle, Delaware.

Comments

This set of four chairs (1981.71.1 was photographed) was owned by Magaret Janvier Hort, who identified Thomas Janvier, the cabinet-making nephew of John Janver Sr., as the original owner.  Reinforcing that provenance, one chair bears a paper label with Hort's initials; another has the initials MFJ, probably for Mary Fries Janvier (1862–1947), with whom Hort corresponded regularly about Janvier family affairs.   The labels suggest the set had been divided between those two and subsequently reunited.

Thomas Janvier's ownership of the set does not necessarily imply that he made them.  By the time of their manufacture, he had developed interests beyond furniture making, notably working as a banker in his home town of New Castle, Delaware.  The chairs are indistinguishable from ones made in Philadelphia, from where he might have purchased them.

The fourth chair of this set was assigned a different accession number (1981.72), probably because the painted decoration has almost worn away entirely.  The chair is treated in this accession record.