This back stool descended in the family of Martha Washington's granddaughter, Eliza Custis Law, who treasured it as "Martha Washington's sewing chair." Back stools, basically side chairs with upholstered backs and seats, provided a frame for the sumptuous display of expensive wool and silk fabrics and were typically placed in parlors, drawing rooms, halls, or bedchambers where they could be seen. Documentary evidence and the number of surviving examples suggest back stools were less often found in the households of the colonial elite than of their counterparts in England, and only a handful survive with a history of use in the Chesapeake.


Back stool with upholstered square back and trapezoidal seat on two, square, molded, tapered front legs and two, square, raked-back rear legs joined by H-mounted stretchers, that at the rear mounted higher. All legs have chamfered inside corners and casters inserted into the feet. Corner braces are inserted into the corners of the frame.

Upholstered in a dark pink toile printed with pastoral scenes and bouquets. Decorative brass tacks outline the lower edge of the seat and the outside edge of the back. When the chair was accessioned in 1978, it was covered with a dark red velvet, a specimen of which is in the Curatorial File. The back stool is displayed with a reproduction blue-and-white check slipcover with coordinating fringe.





Mahogany (primary), oak (rear seat rail), unidentified softwood (corner braces)


Overall: 31 in. x 22 5/8 in. x 23 in. (78.74 cm x 57.47 cm x 58.42 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr. and Mrs. Thomas Weaver, 1978

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.
Buy Tickets What to Do Calendar Shop Restaurant Donate Membership
Estate Hours

Open today from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save