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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
 
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EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS
Easy Chair
1760–1800
Mahogany, eastern white pine, and maple

45 ½ x 32 ¾ x 31 ¾ inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Arts of North America
 
ABOUT

This easy chair, intact with its vivid Irish-stitch needlework cover, is justly celebrated as one of the most highly prized examples of 18th-century American upholstered furniture still in existence. The work reflects the collaboration of three individuals: the needlewoman, in all probability a member of the upper class who commissioned the frame; the chair maker; and the upholsterer who constructed the foundation and attached the embroidery. The latter would also make certain that the chair was fully stuffed to ensure its occupant the utmost comfort. On this example, one of only three known with stitched covers, the back is upholstered with an English stamped harrateen, a woolen fabric patterned with meandering bands, butterflies, and flowers.
 
In 18th-century America, upholstery work was the principal decorative arts-related profession in which women could earn a livelihood. The relatively undisturbed frame of this chair presents an extraordinary record of colonial upholstery which, in turn, contributes toward its significance in establishing historical accuracy in the documenting the upholstery of period furniture.