At the turn of the sixteenth century in France, the loose cushion that was placed on earlier chair types was made more permanent and comfortable and was enhanced by a padded back.(1) This graceful form with refined, turned column legs with entasis and large rectangular upholstery areas that could accommodate treasured show covers was a common type in French-influenced areas and in southern Flanders since the first third of the sixteenth century. The entasis of the columns is fully developed in wood turning and documented in Gilles Corrozet’s treatise on furniture of 1539.(2) Even in progressive urban centers such as Paris the taste for comfortable side chairs continued at least until the mid-seventeenth century.(3) In contrast, the more robust Iberian or Italian versions of such chairs with rectangular stiles and front stretchers eschewed decoration in favor of a frontal, facade-like line. This Lehman chair is linked to 1975.1.1994 by the use of matching historical fabric to unify their appearance. The seat and back of 1975.1.1994 and the seat of this chair are covered with fragments of the same textile pattern, made in fifteenth- or sixteenth-century Italy. The choice of such delicate embroidery must have been deliberate so as to achieve a lighter look. The Lehmans attempted to collect such pieces in pairs, although they were rarely available. The trade catered to the demand by placing show covers with the same pattern on disassociated frames in order to create a set.
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. 238-39.
1. The firm construction with valuable upholstery appears in Gilles Corrozet’s treatise on furniture of 1539 in connection with a stool “tout cou[v]ert de tapisserie.” Corrozet, Gilles. Les blasons domestiques contenantz la décoration d’une maison honneste, et du mesnage estant en icelle, invention joyeuse et moderne. . . . Paris, 1539. [New ed., 1865.], p. 26. See also DuBon, David. “Renaissance Furniture: Sixteenth-Century Italian and French.” In The Frick Collection: An Illustrated Catalogue, vol. 5, Furniture: Italian and French, edited by Joseph Focarino, pp. 3 – 183. New York, 1992, p. 178.
2. Corrozet 1539, p. 36.
3. The type is documented through various representative works and pictorial evidence. See Buffet-Challie, Laurence. “Renaissance: France.” In World Furniture: An Illustrated History, edited by Helena Hayward, pp. 40 – 46. New York, 1965, ill. no. 126; Holm, Edith. Stühle, von der Antike bis zur Moderne: Eine Stilgeschichte des Sitzmöbels. Munich, 1978, p. 77, ill. no. 81; sale, Ernest Brummer collection, Galerie Koller, Zurich, 16–19 October 1979, lot 317; Thornton, Peter. Authentic Decor: The Domestic Interior, 1620 – 1920. London, 1984, pl. 34; Koeppe, Wolfram. Die Lemmers-Danforth-Sammlung Wetzlar: Europäische Wohnkultur aus Renaissance und Barock. Heidelberg, 1992, pp. 91 – 92, nos. M23a, b, M24.