Side chair

D. Phyfe & Son American

Not on view

This side chair and its pair (see 2013.22.1) were originally part of a large suite of rosewood furniture made for the double parlor at Millford, a magnificent Greek Revival mansion built for John Laurence Manning (1816–1889) and Susan Hampton (1816–1845) on their Clarendon (now Sumter) County, South Carolina plantation in 1839–41. The Egyptian lotus piercing in the back splat, slender proportions and seamless shaping of the arched crest and lower back rails illustrates the blending of Classical- and Gothic Revival designs of the period. Manning likely ordered the furniture from D. Phyfe & Son during an 1840 visit to New York. According to invoices and shipping records, between 1841 and 1842, D. Phyfe & Son supplied an astonishing quantity of rosewood, mahogany, and walnut furnishings for the parlors, dining room, entrance hall, and bedchambers of his new residence. The Museum has a related window seat from Millford’s parlors (see 2006.400) in its collection.

The grandeur of Millford and elegance of its interiors and furnishings cannot be separated from Manning’s role as a plantation owner, enslaver, and politician in the Antebellum South. Manning served in the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate before becoming the state’s sixty-fifth governor from 1852–54. In addition to his landholdings in South Carolina, through his marriage, Manning came to own sizeable sugar plantations in Louisiana on which he enslaved over 600 people, according to the 1860 U. S. Federal Census. Manning profited immensely from the unpaid labor of these individuals, which in turn enabled him to embark on such an ambitious building campaign. Once constructed, house’s ornate interiors and the estate grounds and farm were maintained by the approximately thirty people Manning held in bondage at Millford.

Millford is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It is currently owned by the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust.

Side chair, D. Phyfe & Son (1840–1847), Rosewood, rosewood veneer; secondary wood:  ash, American

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