The side chair, with its elaborate, hand-decorated, gilt stenciling, was made in Baltimore, Md., between 1815 and 1825 out of tulip poplar and maple woods. In the neoclassical style, the gilt décor features a Roman helmet, sheathed sword and stylized floral motifs called anthemions. The distinctive shape of this chair, with its exaggerated angled back and wide tablet-form crest rail, is taken from the ancient Greco-Roman klismos design. The chair descended in the Key family of Maryland and was a gift to the DAR Museum from Martha Maddox Key. Family member Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812.
This delicate painted armchair was made in England between 1800 and 1810. It was one of a set of 16 that originally sat in the Octagon, a classical-style, three-story brick house in Washington, D.C., designed by Colonial architect Dr. William Thornton. Built between 1799 and 1801 for the Colonel John Tayloe family, the Octagon was the temporary presidential mansion for James and Dolley Madison after the British burned the White House in 1814. Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, in the house in 1815. The chair was a gift to the DAR Museum from the Misses McKean.
American Spirit Volume 143, Number 5, September/October 2009, Page 6
Side chair photo by Mark Gulezian/Quicksilver; armchair photo by Scott Braman