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Leroy Graves
New Insights on the Virginia Royal Governor's Chair

American Furniture 2013

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Ceremonial armchair, Britain, ca. 1750. Mahogany with beech. H. 49" (with modern arched board added to the crest), W. 21 1/2", D. 24 1/2" (seat). (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, photo, Hans Lorenz.) The footstool is a reproduction.

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Engraved image of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 16, 1866. 

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Letter from W. H. Soane to W.A.R. Goodwin, May 15, 1928.

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Drawing of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 marked "RECEIVED / FEB 11 1929 / PERRY, SHAW & HEPBURN."

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Photograph of a hall vignette in the “Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition,” New York, 1929. The armchair is visible in the left rear corner.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    John Singleton Copley, Henry Laurens, 1782. Oil on canvas. 54 1/4" x 40 5/8". (Courtesy, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., gift of Andrew Mellon, 1942.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Photograph of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1, taken ca. 1930. 

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Photograph of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1, taken in 1963. 

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Photograph of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1, taken in 1977. The arched crest and new leather upholstery were added in preparation for the chair’s exhibition in “Furniture of Williamsburg and Eastern Virginia: The Product of Mind and Hand,” Virginia Museum, Richmond, 1978. Wallace Gusler curated that show.

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Backstool, Britain, ca. 1750. Mahogany with oak, cherry, beech, and ash. H. 40", W. 25", D. 22" (seat). (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund and the TIF Foundation in Memory of Michelle A. Iverson; photo, Craig McDougal.) The other backstool has red pine in its construction.

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Details showing the knee carving on the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 (left) and one of the backstools represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10 (right).

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Details showing the paw feet on the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 (left) and one of the backstools represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10 (right).

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Details showing the side knee blocks of the left front legs of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 (left) and one of the backstools represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10 (right). On the armchair knee block, the carver snapped off the volute and had to modify his design.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail showing a rounded rear post on one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail showing replaced front and side rails on the seat frame of one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail showing the back attachment of one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Detail of a screw used in the back attachment of one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Detail showing altered knee blocks on one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Details showing remnants of the original red wool (top) and silk (bottom) surviving on one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Detail showing the brass nail pattern on one of the backstools, represented by the example illustrated in fig. 10.

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Armchair illustrated in fig. 1 with upholstery removed.

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Detail showing a remnant of the original red silk show cloth on the armchair illustrated in fig. 1.

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Detail showing the brass nail pattern on the armchair illustrated in fig. 1.

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    A View of the House of Peers. The King Sitting on the Throne, the Commons Attending Him at the End of the Session, 1755, engraved by B. Cole, London, 1755. (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Ceremonial armchair with carving attributed to the shop of Henry Hardcastle (d. 1756), Charleston, South Carolina, 1755–1756. Mahogany with sweet gum. H. 53 3/8", W. 37 3/8" (arms). (Collection of the McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Detail of the mortises and screw holes in the crest of the armchair illustrated in fig. 25.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    X-radiographs of the crest rail of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Detail showing the original placement of a mahogany strip added to the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 during the nineteenth century.

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Detail showing the partial mortise in the top of the mahogany strip and alignment with a patched partial mortise in the crest rail of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1. The marks left by the lead and outer cutter of the center bit are visible at the bottom of the mortise on the strip and below the patch on the crest.

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Detail showing a center bit similar to the example used to bore the mortises in the mahogany strip and crest rail of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1.

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail showing the partial mortises on the mahogany strip and crest of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1 with a patch removed.

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Detail showing the rabbeted upper rear edge of the crest of the armchair illustrated in fig. 1.

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Armchair, backstool and reproduction stool illustrated in this article, with red silk, wool upholstery, and fringe. (Photo, Craig McDougal.)