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Side Chair (USA)

This is a Side Chair. It was designed by Charles Rohlfs. It is dated 1901 and we acquired it in 1976. Its medium is joined and carved oak, leather cushions (modern replacements). It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Contemporary critics and historians alike have categorized Charles Rohlfs’s furniture as variously Arts and Crafts, Mission, or Art Nouveau, but the cabinetmaker preferred the terms “Rohlfs Style” or “Artistic Furniture.” Indeed, his hand-crafted work is not easily categorized, and his influences are equally idiosyncratic. Before beginning a professional furniture-making career in 1897, Rohlfs had studied science and art in school and had worked as a theater actor and as a pattern maker and designer for iron foundries. As a pattern maker, he designed and carved wooden patterns that were used to make molds for iron casts, often to be used on stoves, a job that likely served as his introduction to woodworking. His furniture maintains a reference to his foundry experience in the use of individually crafted pieces that he then arranged and assembled together with screws. While Rohlfs explored detailed carving in some pieces, the Ladder Back Chair uses simple forms and is reminiscent of medieval motifs. The upholstery on the Cooper Hewitt example is a re-creation of the original, down to the size of the punched holes and lanyard ties. In his short professional furniture-making career of only 10 years, Rohlfs produced just a few hundred pieces, each focused on quality, craftsmanship, and individualistic artistry.

It is credited Museum purchase from Mary Blackwelder Memorial Fund.

  • Armchair With Slip Seat (USA)
  • turned joined mahogany-veneered oak, horse hair upholstery (probably replaced).
  • Gift of Norvin Hewitt Green.
  • 1938-58-1083

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 122.5 x 51 x 59 cm (48 1/4 x 20 1/16 x 23 1/4 in.)

It has the following markings

Signed on the back of seat skirt with branded monogram "R" in a notched rectangular frame / "1901"

Cite this object as

Side Chair (USA); Designed by Charles Rohlfs (1853–1936); joined and carved oak, leather cushions (modern replacements); H x W x D: 122.5 x 51 x 59 cm (48 1/4 x 20 1/16 x 23 1/4 in.); Museum purchase from Mary Blackwelder Memorial Fund; 1976-22-1-a,b

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Side Chair (USA) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=8 December 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>