good shabbos chair/ week 1

As the Lord seems intent on our taking a day of rest; I have decided to highlight one fantastic chair per week. If we must rest, the chair better be beautiful.

For my first chair, I have chosen a slipper chair by John H. Belter, it is part of the Met’s collection. I have had ambivalence concerning Belter for most of my life. Perhaps because most of Belter’s designs were in the Rococo Revival style,and my love of “true” Rococo prevented my appreciating what a novel and  truly wonderful aesthetic he created.

Slipper chair, 1850-60

John H. Belter (American, born Germany, 1804-1863; firm active New york City, 1844-66)

Rosewood, ash

The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

I no longer have any hesitation at all, I have fully embraced “the modern French style”; so complete is my conversion that I dream of finding a piece at some obscure auction. That of course is ridiculous, price is always ‘upon request” when Belter shows up. Perhaps some forlorn knockoff will appear at Bonhams.

This is indeed a beauty, the shallow carvings are a writhing mass of foliate excess, no hint of French origin. This is German, German, German, with a layover to say hello to the Pompadour.

My family has a apocryphal tale that my Nana’s family, German Jews who came over mid-19th century were fine cabinet makers. I have found no proof of Whittenborn/burg glory, yet I still hold on to this tale. It explains  to me my fascination with German fastidiousness and finesse; which can  truly border on the vulgar, nonetheless  I am wild for it.

This chair, just creeps to the edge of extreme, I am struck by the proportions, the height 44 “, with a relatively low seat, it IS of course a slipper chair.

The fine blue silk is a happy nod to the House of David.

Good Shabbos.

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