Boldly designed and masterfully carved, this easy chair is among the rarities of surviving Newport furniture from the eighteenth century. While the colonial port city is renowned today for its block-and-shell casepieces, high quality chairs such as the example offered here appear to have been made in far fewer numbers. This disparity in production was probably due to the dominance of Boston's chairmakers earlier in the century. With the influx of Boston-made chairs in the 1750s, Newport held less allure for chairmakers and allied craftsmen, such as upholsterers (Keno, Freund and Miller, "'The Very Pink of the Mode': Boston Georgian Chairs, Their Export, and Their Influence," American Furniture (Chipstone Foundation, 1996), pp. 366-306).
Nevertheless, as this chair illustrates, Newport's talented craftsmen were capable of producing easy chairs rivalling those of their Boston competitors. With its lack of stretchers, the chair is distinguished as one of the more urbane forms produced in colonial New England. Less than five Newport examples survive in such pristine condition as the chair offered here. These include those illustrated in Conradsen, Useful Beauty Early American Decorative Arts from St. Louis Collections (St. Louis, 1999) and Carpenter, The Arts and Crafts of Newport Rhode Island 1640-1820 (Newport, 1954), p. 54 fig. 28.