Wing Chair Brings more than $1 Million at Christie’s

From New York American Auctions 2010

It may not look like much to a casual observer, but a wing chair brought more than $1 million including premium at Christie’s Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints sale Wednesday. The chair was described as a Chippendale Carved Mahogany Easy Chair, possibly by the shop of Benjamin Randolph (1737-1791), circa 1770.  The estimate was $300,000 to 500,000. In part the description reads:

Paired alongside the famous flame-stitch embroidered upholstered easy chair at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the easy chair offered here was illustrated and discussed by Wendy Cooper as a prime example of original upholstery. Furthermore, it is identified by Morrison Heckscher as one of four from Philadelphia with intact stuffing. The removal of later layers of upholstery revealed the original eighteenth-century canvas and stuffing consisting of rolls of straw along the seat edge and curled marsh hair in the wings and back. The marsh hair stuffing was contained within a canvas covering placed along the inner surface of the arms, wings and back. This chair never had a covering placed on the outer surface of these components, unlike the other Philadelphia examples discussed by Heckscher. Also, the chair was originally covered with a crimson worsted material, fragments of which were found under the upholsterer’s rosehead nails. As demonstrated by this chair and noted by Cooper and Heckscher, the stuffing was not placed along the outer edges of the wings, arms and crests, allowing the clear definition of the contours of the curvilinear frame. The contours were further delineated by rows of brass tacks, their holes visible along the wings and arms (Cooper, p. 69 and Heckscher 1987, p. 105, both in Literature, above; for the flame-stitch embroidered easy chair, see Heckscher 1985, cover and pp. 122-124, cat. 72; for more on the upholstery of eighteenth-century easy chairs, see Mark Anderson and Robert F. Trent, “A Catalogue of American Easy Chairs,” American Furniture 1993, ed. Luke Beckerdite (Milwaukee, WI, 1993), pp. 213-234).

Also of note the Philadelphia Chippendale clock discussed in an earlier post brought $386,500 with premium. It had been estimated at $300,000 to $600,000. The portrait of George Washington by Charles Peale Polk ended just below the $300,000 to $600,000 estimate at $290,500.  The Rhode Island drop leaf table brought $52,500.

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