The most imposing chairs in seventeenth-century New England were the joined-oak armchairs with panel-and-frame backs carved in the same manner as chests. Based on English Renaissance and Mannerist designs, this example, with its solid, vigorous form enlivened by carving, has a commanding presence. Its massive rear posts taper on the front surface toward the crest and foot, resulting in a back that slants to accommodate the human form and in legs that are lightened. The carving, which consists of a double arcade, intersecting lunettes with stylized foliage, and S-scrolls, creates a lively interplay of semicircles, circles, and vertical accents. The square pillars, used instead of turnings to ornament the front posts (part of the vocabulary of Mannerist decoration), are an unusual feature in New England furniture of the period known primarily on this and five related chairs. Several of these chairs have histories associating them with Essex County, Massachusetts.
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