This dramatic side chair belongs to an important group of chairs recently re-attributed to Boston chair-makers working in the early Georgian style. The chair incorporates design elements found on London chairs of the 1720s and 1730s; in particular, these include the broad, strongly shaped inverted baluster form veneered splat, S-shaped double crook stiles, shell-carved crest, compass seat, cabriole front legs and tapered rear legs with small square feet. The stylized trifid front feet on this example are comparatively rare on the Boston-made group, but are similarly traceable to stylish English and Irish chairs.
During the second quarter of the 18th century Boston was the primary port for the importation of British goods into the colonies. The powerful shipping industry in the city also promoted the active exportation of trade goods, chairs included, to other colonial ports and cities. The combination of a taste for British styles and a highly successful and active shipping industry insured a broad dissemination of British style chairs and other furnishings throughout Boston and into these other colonial cities, where many such chairs have extensive provenance (see Keno, Freund and Miller, "The Very Pink of the Mode: Boston Georgian Chairs, Their Export, and Their Influence," American Furniture (Chipstone Foundation, 1996), pp. 266-306).
A broad range of chairs were produced, both for local consumption and for such venture cargo, though examples with such stylized trifid feet are comparatively rare. A chair from the same set is in the collection of Winterthur Museum, and is illustrated in Richards and Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur (Winterthur, Delaware, 1997), catalog number 26. This chair bears the roman numeral V, while the presently offered chair is similarly marked IV. Neither chair survives with an early provenance. Another chair possibly from this set is in the Monmouth County Historical Association. A very similar slipper chair is illustrated in Sack, American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, vol. 6, p. 1166, fig. 4027. Another closely related example is in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York (see above, and Keno, Freund and Miller, figure 29). This example has more elaborate carving but a simpler treatment of the stiles, utilizing a single crook rather than a double crook design. In addition, present on the chair offered here is the bow-shaped beaded device on the shoe which provides a visual foil for the scrolled lower edge of the bold, shell-carved crest.