The Chippendale Chair Essay

746 words - 3 pages

In " Circles and Lines " historian John Demos writes about the shape of life across the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries covering a traditional, a transition and a more modern time period. Demos traces change through these time periods and asserts the use of a mid 18th century Philadelphia Chippendale chair to demonstrate the transition of American life from circular to linear.

According to Demos, the consumer revolution offered choices for those who could afford the Philadelphia Chippendale chair. For example, "a well-to-do tobacco planter and his wife ...would explore new possibilities for furnishing and decorating their house" . This supports the idea of free choice and moving in a pattern supporting the idea of progress. A description of the Chippendale chair would include that it is hand carved by highly skilled journeymen cabinetmakers that have fashioned ornamentation out of mahogany wood. These craftsman have added a generously padded seat for comfort, with a hand carved S-shaped wide back that's tapered down to the seat. The chair measures 36"7/8 inches in height and the seat is 23"3/4 from the floor. The front legs of the chair are carved in a ball and claw design reflecting Chinese culture, which reflected the linear movement during this time approximately the year 1750, which demonstrated moving away from the modern classical period. The Philadelphia Chippendale chair clearly symbolizes the transformation from cyclical rhythm to linear rhythm.

The Chippendale chair was not mentioned during the colonial American time period, which was defined by its recurring cycles, people were known as republicans who were fundamentally cyclical. The colonial period was, "linked to the hours of daylight; for the most part, you wouldn't eat after dark." The daily activities were tied closely to sunrise and sunset, early American life was more concerned with agricultural, seasonal pattering and day-to-day survival. The novelty and elegance of the Philadelphia Chippendale chair was not characteristic of the traditional time period. The Chippendale chair grew out of the consumer trading system and shipped to the United States from Europe. As the Chippendale chair was manufactured in the United States the colonies felt they were being exploited by the Mother country being required to pay taxes on theses goods. Thus we have the American...

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