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American chairmakers perfected the fan-back Windsor side chair, so-called because the flaring spindles of its back resemble a partially open fan, in the 1780s. The central, elongated baluster or vase-like turnings atop short spools and tapered ends on the back posts and legs of this one suggest it was the work of a Philadelphia-trained craftsman. According to family history, it was given to Robert Graham, an overseer at Mount Vernon at some point after George Washington's death. While Washington certainly would have been familiar with fan-back Windsors, whether or not he originally owned this example remains an open question.


Black-painted fan-back Windsor side chair with an arched crest rail with plain, circular ears, nine plain, tapered spindles and double-baluster-spool-and-taper-turned back posts, a shield-shaped, saddled seat, and four splayed, double- baluster-spool-and-taper-turned legs joined by H-mounted stretchers. The back posts splay outward from the seat and are tenoned through the seat. The plank seat has a slight pommel at front center and a deep groove outlining the front and back of the spindle area. The legs are tenoned through the seat and double-wedged. The stretcher support has single-swell side stretchers and a medial stretcher with a single, central swell flanked by ornamental rings.

The through-tenons of the legs were reinforced with nails at some point after its creation. The spindle next to the proper left back post is a replacement.





Tulip poplar (seat), oak (crest rail), maple (leg), paint


Overall (H x W x D): 35 1/4 in. x 24 in. x 17 11/16 in. (89.54 cm x 60.96 cm x 44.93 cm)

Credit Line

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

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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