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The Swan Family Chippendale Side Chair

Documentation Signed
Origin United States, Massachusetts
Period 18th Century
Materials Primary Wood: Mahogany; Secondary Woods: Birch, Oak, Pine.
W. 23.5 in; H. 37.5 in; D. 18.5 in;
W. 59.69 cm; H. 95.25 cm; D. 46.99 cm;
Creation Date Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1770.
Description Provenance:
The chair is part of the set made for James Swan (1754-1830) of Boston and Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Chairs from this set appear in Richard A Randall, Jr., American Furniture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, pages 196-197, catalog number 155 (one of two illustrated) The chairs are part of a larger set originally owned by the family of James Swan (1754-1830) of Boston and Dorchester. In 1928 heirs divided the set and gifted four chairs to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The chair marked II is now in the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection at Yale University Art Gallery and is illustrated in Patricia E. Kane, 300 Years of American Seating Furniture, Chairs, Beds from the Mabel Brady Garvan and other Collections at Yale University, pages 131-132, catalog number 111, and in John Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830, page 258, illustration 882. The chairs also appear in Mary E. H. Yehia, Ornamental Carving on Boston Furniture of the Chippendale Style, entry 153, page 220 in Boston Furniture of the Eighteenth Century.

James Swan was born in Fifeshire, Scotland in 1754 and came to Boston at an early age. He was an aide-de-camp to General Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was wounded. In 1777, he married Hepzibah Clarke and a year later he became a member of the Massachusetts legislature. He travelled to Paris in 1787, where he amassed a fortune working for a firm that furnished supplies to the new French government. Upon his return to the United States in 1795 Swan became known for his philanthropy. He continued to travel and returned to Europe frequently where he died in 1831.

Photograph © Bruce M. White
Styles / Movements Chippendale, Traditional
Dealer Reference Number 6672
Incollect Reference Number 109029
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