Solid Rosewood Rococo Side Chairs … from Baltimore
I put a modest absentee bid on a pair of chairs coming up at auction. I knew from looking at the photo above that they were obviously Rococo with a rose on the crest and were pierce-carved. I wanted to go look at them in person to confirm my suspicion that they were Rosewood and to see if, by chance, they were laminated – which in the end were not.
Lo and behold I get home and am putting away my stack of Victorian furniture books (by doing this blog they tend to accumulate outside the bookcase and not in it) and for some reason flipped through a new book purchase of mine, “Furniture in Maryland – 1740-1940: The Collection of The Maryland Historical Society” by Gregory R. Weidman (Try Amazon.com here) and there it was, #194 on page 223, Baltimore Side Chair 1845-1870. Now, I’m having second thoughts on the bid amount … would be nice to have Baltimore examples in my collection.
We often talk about and seek out New York Rococo (Belter, Meeks, Roux, Baudouine) but not Baltimore, so I thought I’d pass on some design characteristics typical to that city as stated in the book. It should help you differentiate Baltimore pieces from NY pieces. I’m beginning to think that these pieces were actually Baltimore and not Roux based on this information.
This is from the description of plate #193, the matching armchair that precedes these side chairs:
First, the armchair is made of solid rather than laminated rosewood. The design and execution of the carving around the back is typical of Baltimore in its openness, lightness, flowing scrolls, and naturalistic rose at the top of the crest. The method in which the arms, lower back, and seat join and the boldly carved, swirled S-curve of the arm supports are unlike those features of high style New York armchairs. The low, slightly curved cabriole legs, carved with stylized rather than naturalistic decoration and coming to a point, are frequently seen on Rococo Revival pieces of Baltimore origin. In sum, this armchair is both stylish and exuberant, reflectinig the cabinetmaker’s skill and taste without resorting to the extraordinarily massive and overwrought naturalistic ornamentation seen on works by Belter and his competitors.
Maybe Baltimore Rococo would have been a Rococo that even Charles Eastlake could have stomached.