Art Curatorial

From the Collection – Elderkin Great Chair

Attributed to John Elderkin (Connecticut or Massachusetts, 1616-1687), Great Chair, 1650-80. Chipstone Foundation, CF1992.2

A treasure you’ll find at the Milwaukee Art Museum: One of the oldest known pieces of American furniture to survive. Let me say that again: At the Museum is one of the oldest known pieces of American furniture.

This dramatic chair was made sometime in the mid-1600s in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Of course, at the time of its construction, its maker would have identified himself and the style of this chair as English. And yes, three-legged chairs of this type were not uncommon in England, but on the faraway shores of New England, this Great Chair was a great novelty.