Side Chair

Herter Brothers American

Not on view

Herter Brothers was the preeminent cabinetmaking and decorating firm in New York City during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and provided wealthy Americans with innovative interior designs and furniture of the highest quality. Although much of their work was bespoke, the firm frequently used customized versions of the same form across commissions. This chair form was used for some of the firm’s most elite clients, including railroad tycoons Mark Hopkins and William H. Vanderbilt. Rather than traditional marquetry to adorn the chair’s back, this example features an unusual decorative panel of two colored metals depicting stylized flowers in the Japanese taste, a detail unique in Herter Brothers’ oeuvre. An inscription on the inside of the chair seat rail reads, "Store," suggesting that this piece may have been intended for display in the firm’s Broadway showroom and was not made for a specific client. Its status as a showroom piece may explain its rare use of a metal panel in the back, perhaps an experimental treatment, which demonstrated the firm’s technical skill and creativity.

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