Chippendale Comes to Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn Chair
Pottery Barn Chair

I  was flipping the pages in the January, 2009 Pottery Barn Catalog that had arrived in the day’s mail when I noticed a Chippendale-style chair on page 161. “This is a good sign,” I thought. Most everything in the Pottery Barn catalog draws from designs after 1900. The chair is an exception, and its inclusion may be a sign that earlier styles, Federal, Regency and American Empire, might finally work their way back to being more commonly used to decorate American homes.

The chair was not shown in a setting, as it might even be out of place with the other decor shown in the catalog. For those who consider collecting antiques, but don’t want to live like an antiquarian, selecting lesser-used peices that are antique, like chests, bookcases, desks and dining tables; and more frequently used pieces that are reporductions, like seating furniture, is a good option.

Chair by Alcoa in Heinz Center, Pittsburgh
Chair by Alcoa in Heinz Center, Pittsburgh

The chair style created by Thomas Chippendale has been widely copied. Most often these chairs are made of Mahogany. While this chair looks classic, the store has given it a modern twist by producing it in a “glossy black finish.” Offered at $199.99, I suppose that Mahogany might raise the cost beyond a targeted price point.

While new chairs can usually withstand wear for a while, and you don’t have to be careful not to wear on an expensive antique by sitting on them, many reproduction chairs from the early century can withstand wear even better–they have after all had as much as a century of testing.

The search term “Chippendale chair” on ebay came up with 129 results, many reproductions sold as sets that averaged out cost less that $200.00 each. If you want an 18th-Century Chippendale chair, just from the era, not crafted by Thomas Chippendale, the cost is considerably more. Other commercial retailers including Stickley offer early American and English-styled furniture. I haven’t been there in a while but the prices aren’t online and are likely to exceed Pottery Barn. (as I recall, some items are about the same as a good antique piece without provenance).

On the subject of these chairs, next time you’re in Pittsburgh, be sure to visit the Heinz Center in the Strip District. There’s a Chippendal-style chair made by ALCOA of aluminum.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage.

When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city.

With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s.

The result will be a book with a video component.

We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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