This chair is attributed to being made by Robert Walker in his cabinet shop in Fredericksburg, Virginia in the late 18th century in the Hepplewhite design. The primary wood is mahogany and the secondary wood is yellow pine. This high-style chair shows a splat with an intricate carving of Prince of Wales feathers, with surrounding parallel curved bands, scrolls, and folds.
The feathered splat and the distinctive side stiles, having an especially curved and thick base, are both virtually a match to an earlier Chippendale arm chair currently owned by George Washington’s Mount Vernon and pictured on page 82 in the 2006 American Furniture edited by Luke Beckerdite for the Chipstone Foundation. The following photograph shows a close up of the chair on page 82:
Intriguingly, the Mount Vernon chair is described as having the crest and splat replaced in the 19th century. Further, the lineage of ownership is not clear, though they speculate that it appears to be in Augustine Washington’s probate inventory of 1764. While there is no provenance that this side chair was ever at Mount Vernon, it is not a coincidence that the splat and stiles are nearly identical to Robert Walker’s carving of a Mount Vernon-owned arm chair. In searching other Robert Walker pieces sold, there was a similarly fancy Walker side chair at Jeffrey Evans Auctions in Mt. Crawford, Virginia, without a historic provenance, and it fetched $28,750 on June 21, 2014! Brunk’s Auctions in Asheville, North Carolina sold a Walker slant-front desk, formerly owned by the Royal Governor, Thomas Lee, where it fetched over $218,000 on May 16, 2015! The buyer of this chair will not be faint hearted. An identified Virginia chair with a provenance is rare. None have been found in dealer’s inventories. It is indeed expensive and should be.
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