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Antiques Considered - June 13, 2012

 

This French chair came from an estate sale, the owner having bought it for $5.  He thinks the wood is walnut.  It shows evidence of many slipcoverings, and the surviving fabric on the rear of the back appears to be silk.  It is structurally sound, as evidenced by the modern braces strengthening the legs to the seat frame.  He asks if it is worth restoring.

This is an excellent French chair, well worthy of a good restoration.  The style is Louis XV, with its distinctive cabriole legs and medallion back.  It dates from the late Second Empire or early Third Republic,1870, when the French returned to earlier motifs for their inspiration. 

The French experienced a similar nostalgia for the earlier periods of design that we did in America.  We refer to the American return to the early styles as Centennial because it took place at the time of the American Centennial, which historically coincided with the dawning of the Third Republic in France.

French furniture remains popular in this country, particularly in urban areas.  The interest is less in the South, except for Louisiana, and in rural regions.  Properly upholstered, this chair would be worth $350.  If we could determine that it is not from the third quarter of the nineteenth century, but is an original from the mid-eighteenth century, the value would be several times greater.

As to the restoration, I recommend a simple design with a gold or silver background, and if the old fabric on the back is to be covered, I suggest leaving it under the new application.  It is part of the chair's history, particularly if it is original.  The upholsterer should be able to determine at what stage it was applied.

Clearly this chair was part of a parlor or dining room suite.  It has classic lines, and should be saved as a great relic of its period.           

Happy Antiquing!

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