Probably made in the same shop as the well-known set of Apthorp chairs, this side chair exhibits the hallmarks of high style Boston chair making in the late 1730s and 1740s. As discussed by Leigh Keno, Joan Barzilay Freund and Alan Miller, the shell-carved crest and knees, inverted baluster splat, angular S-shaped stiles and rear squared feet are all Georgian features found on London chairs of the 1720s and early 1730s and through imported models, were adopted by Boston's chair makers as early as the mid 1730s (Leigh Keno, Joan Barzilay Freund, and Alan Miller, "The Very Pink of the Mode: Boston Georgian Chairs, Their Export, and Their Influence," American Furniture 1996 (Milwaukee, WI, 1996), p. 272). In its overall design and execution of carved details, this chair appears identical to two others and it is likely that all three were made in the same shop (David H. Conradsen, Useful Beauty: Early American Decorative Arts from St. Louis Collections (St. Louis, MO, 1999), p. 25; Clement E. Conger and A. W. Rollins, Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State (New York, 1991), p. 92, cat. 11; John L. Scherer, New York Furniture at the New York State Museum (Alexandria, VA, 1984), p. 9, cat. 5). These similarities include crest shells with nine convex lobes, elongated shells on the knees and distinctive shortened foot talons. Aside from the carved ornament and lack of stretchers, these chairs appear identical to the Apthorp models and in their discussion of the example at the Department of State, Keno, Freund and Miller attribute it to the same shop (Keno, Freund and Miller, p. 284).
Whereas the chairs discussed above are all made of walnut and have walnut-veneered splats, this chair is distinguished by its use of cedrela, or Spanish cedar. An aromatic wood that repels insects, cedrela resembles mahogany and was imported from the Caribbean from the seventeenth century. It was used with some frequency for the applied ornament on seventeenth-century furniture and also appears in the early nineteenth-century furniture of the Seymours; its use in New England during the mid-eighteenth century is very rare and has not been found on other chairs of this type (for its use in a Newport block-and-shell desk-and-bookcase, see Brock Jobe, "The Lisle Desk-and-Bookcase: A Rhode Island Icon," American Furniture 2001 (Milwaukee, WI, pp. 135, 138, fig. 22).