The armrest hand pieces with carved rosette decoration on the sides and the simple form with modest balusters as arm supports indicate that the frame was specifically made to accommodate the precious Renaissance cut velvet.(1) The paper labels are similar to those of the firm of French & Company, New York, which employed Italian-style cabinetmakers. The chair’s form is based on southern European pieces that were popular on the Iberian Peninsula and in Italy.(2) During the 1890s, great American collectors Philip Lehman, J. Pierpont Morgan, Henry Walters, and Henry Clay Frick, among others, demanded museum-quality pieces with which to furnish their town houses and country mansions. In addition to French & Company, there were Parisian decorating and furniture-making companies such as Etienne-Simon-Eugene Roudillon, Jacques Seligmann & Co., and Duveen Brothers that had offices in New York to specifically cater to wealthy American clients.
Catalogue entry from: Wolfram Koeppe. The Robert Lehman Collection. Decorative Arts, Vol. XV. Wolfram Koeppe, et al. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 242-43.
1. Thurman, Christa C. Mayer. The Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 14, European Textiles. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2001, p. 184, no. 109 (discussion of the velvet).
2. For the chair type, see 1975.1.1996; see also “Reproduction Furniture” 1918; Fayet, Monique de. Meubles et ensembles: Renaissance espagnole. Paris, 1961, p. 28, fig. 35; Ciechanowiecki, Andrew. “Renaissance: Spain and Portugal.” In World Furniture: An Illustrated History, edited by Helena Hayward, pp. 61 – 65. New York, 1965, ill. no. 192 (for a Spanish variation called sillón de fraileros); Holm, Edith. Stühle, von der Antike bis zur Moderne: Eine Stilgeschichte des Sitzmöbels. Munich, 1978, p. 77, ill. no. 83.