Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Nationality & Life Dates:
(American, 1764 – 1820), Philadelphia
Painted and gilded yellow poplar, oak, maple, white pine, and cane
34 3/8 x 17 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches
Purchase with funds from the Decorative Arts Endowment
On View - Stent Family Wing, Second Level, Gallery 207
This Baltimore klismos side chair epitomizes the American Empire style. Reflecting the French interpretation of Roman and Greek arts revived by Napoleon, the form is believed to have been derived from the Greek klismos models seen on ancient vases. By drawing upon classicism, a newly independent America created parallels with the ancient democracies of Greece and Rome. Many of the motifs reflect attitudes of optimism, authority, and strength characteristic of the Roman and American republics. The chair shows the archaeological influence that pervaded this early-nineteenth-century classical revival, a predominantly urban style favored by the elite. The construction is associated with architect Benjamin Latrobe, whose design for similar chairs was among the furnishings of the White House during James Madison’s administration.