"Neat and plain" style chairs, in contrast to elaborately carved high-style chairs, formed the mainstay of many cabinetmakers' businesses in colonial Virginia, offering customers a more affordable, yet still fashionable, seating option. In this example, the heart-and-rib pierced splat, a pattern particularly favored by cabinetmakers from the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, as well as the scrolled tablet on the crest rail accent the otherwise simple form of the chair. Roman numerals carved into the rear seat rail indicate that it was originally part of a larger set. It has a history of ownership by George Washington's mother, Mary Ball Washington (1708-1789).


Walnut side chair with crest rail terminating in rounded ears, a heart-and-rib pattern pierced splat, trapezoidal slip-seat frame with rounded top edges, and Marlborough legs; backward curving, scrolled tablet top at center of crest rail; raked-back stiles with flat fronts and rounded backs are dovetailed into crest rail and pegged; pierced splat with three lobate vertical ribs above a heart; flat-arched horizontal shaped rear seat rail with separate splat shoe ornamented with filleted quarter-round molding at the top; trapezoidal seat frame with straight-bottom side and front rails; no corner blocks; side supports glued to inside of side seat rails; rails tenoned into legs and back posts, secured with single pegs on the front and back rail, and with double pegs at the front and rear of the side rails; stretchers tenoned into legs and single pegged on sides, back, and front, those at the back and the front placed higher than those on the sides; chamfered inside corner on all legs.

Trapezoidal slip-seat frame with printed cotton cover and webbing visible on the bottom. A yellow damask slip cover is placed over the slip seat, and thin sheets of ethafoam have been placed between the cover and the rails of the frame on the back.







Overall (H x W x D): 37 1/8 in. x 20 1/2 in. x 19 3/8 in. (94.3 cm x 52.07 cm x 49.21 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mary F. Failing, Vice Regent for Oregon, 1924


Chiseled on inside of front seat rail: "XVII".

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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