Rocker: front view
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|Brief description||Boston rocker signed by Theophilus George, Mineral Point, 1866-1880.|
|Object name||Rocking chair|
|Alternate object name||Boston rocker|
|Maker||George, Theophilus, 1842-ca. 1920|
|Dimensions||39 1/4"H x 21 1/4"W x 18 3/4"D|
|Materials and techniques||Painted and stenciled wood; Turned legs and stretchers; Mortise-and-tenon construction|
|Marks||Signed in pencil on underside of seat: "T. George/ Min. Point."|
|Original location||Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin|
|Current location||Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin|
|Description||This rocking chair has a wide crest rail, vase-shaped back splat, scrolled arms and seat, and turned front legs and front stretcher. The overall red on black painted graining is meant to resemble rosewood. The crest, splat and seat are stenciled and painted with leaves, curtains and other motifs in red and gold. Two painted outlines of eagle's heads frame the surface of the seat.|
This popular nineteenth-century chair form, known as a Boston rocker, first appeared in the Boston area in the 1820s. It is characterized by three main features: a crown top, contoured back and scrolled seat. Boston rockers were almost always elaborately painted and stenciled. This chair is signed by furniture maker and dealer Theophilus George, who operated a furniture store in Mineral Point, Wisconsin in the 1860s and 1870s. The chair was decorated by an experienced ornamental painter (possibly George himself, an employee or an outside contractor), who used brushes and combs to imitate the grain of expensive rosewood and stenciled the back and seat with colored metallic powders.
The earliest references to "George's Furniture Store" on High Street are found in advertisements in Mineral Point newspapers in 1866. The 1870 federal census for Mineral Point lists Theophilus George as a "cabinet manufacturer" age 28, living with wife Emma, two young children, and a Wisconsin-born apprentice, 21-year-old Alfred Prideaux. George and his family relocated to the nearby city of Darlington by 1880, and he appears as a resident of the city of Milwaukee in the census records for 1900, 1910 and 1920.
In an interview conducted late in his life, Pendarvis co-founder Edgar Hellum recalled that he acquired the chair from an elderly woman living on "the Greenhouse Street" (West Fountain Street) in Mineral Point. According to Hellum, the chair always had a shawl draped over the back, which would account for the remarkable quality and color that have been maintained in the stenciled ornament.
|Sources||Mineral Point Tribune, December 5, 1866. For more on the Boston rocker form, see Ellen and Bert Denker, The Rocking Chair Book (New York: Mayflower Books, 1979) and Nancy Goyne Evans, American Windsor Furniture: Specialized Forms (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1997). For more on furniture painting and stenciling, see John Tarrant Kenney, The Hitchcock Chair (New York: C. N. Potter, 1971) and Cynthia V. A. Schaffner and Susan Klein, American Painted Furniture 1790-1880 (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1997).|
|Related objects||Other Boston rockers documented in the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database include examples from the collections of the Villa Louis (object # VL1952.3.155) and the Dunn County Historical Society (object # 2006.84.1): http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/u?/wda,358 and http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/u?/wda,750|
|Owner||Pendarvis (Wisconsin Historical Society)|
|Rights||(c) 2006 by the Wisconsin Historical Society--Pendarvis Historic Site. Contact the owner for more information. http://pendarvis.wisconsinhistory.org/|
|Digital collection||Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database|
|Keywords||Furniture; Rocking chair; Boston rocker; Chairs (furniture forms); Seating furniture; Furnishings (artifacts); Furnishings and equipment|
|Object name||Rocker: front view|
|Rights||(c) 2006 by the Wisconsin Historical Society at Pendarvis. Contact the owner for more information. http://pendarvis.wisconsinhistory.org/|