The Curious Case of the Corner Chair

Thomas Hickey, Thomas Graham of Kinross, Calcutta Yale Center for British Art

Thomas Hickey, Thomas Graham of Kinross, Calcutta
Yale Center for British Art

We are no strangers to chairs, or any type of seating for that matter (armchairs, side chairs, hall chairs, settees… the list goes on).  But today we are focusing on a type of chair that has a fascinating history and enduring charm: the corner chair.

Corner chairs feature curved or angular backs set around one corner of its seat, meaning the seat is on the diagonal.  Corner chairs first appeared in England at the beginning of the 18th century and were often referred to as ’roundabout’ chairs.

The chairs were first used in more private spaces within the home, including dressing rooms and gentlemen’s bedchambers.  They soon became popular in public rooms within the house as well due to their reputation as comfortable chairs.  Corner chairs appeared in libraries, studies, and sitting rooms.  In the above portrait, the Irish army officer Thomas Graham is shown sitting in a corner chair by his desk.

Curiously, designs for corner chairs do not appear in any of the notable publications by Georgian cabinetmakers such as Thomas Chippendale, George Sheraton, or Thomas Sheraton.  Nonetheless, corner chairs remained popular in England throughout the 18th century and the fashion for them spread to the American colonies.

A George II Mahogany Corner Chair Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A George II Mahogany Corner Chair
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We are delighted to have this George II mahogany corner chair in our collection.  It features wonderful carving and a bold cabriole front leg with a ball and claw foot.

One thought on “The Curious Case of the Corner Chair

  1. Pingback: It’s All Greek (or Latin, or Celtic) to Me: The Origin of Furniture Vocabulary Part II | The Source

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