Chicago Antiques Guide

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Art Nouveau Chair

Posted Friday, April 14 by Brian

Art Nouveau Chair.jpg I bought this cool Victorian chair at an antique dealer and am wondering if I got it at a fair price. The frame has some damage to the carving on top. I know of a local restoration shop that can completely fix this but I also know it's not inexpensive to do. In the long run, I love the style of the chair so that makes it moot. However, I'm curious if I was overcharged before I go back to this dealer for any other items. The velvet fabric isn't original but is in good condition. I'm curious about the style. Do you know if it's "Eastlake" related, and if it would be English or American?

I can see why you had difficulty pinning down the style of this piece. It doesn't fit neatly into any of the major style groups. It is rather eclectic, borrowing elements from different places. The basic shape I have seen before and is reminiscent of an X-frame chair, where the arm from one side crosses under the seat and becomes the leg on the other side. Structurally on your chair they are separate pieces, but visually give an impression of the x-frame. The legs are basic carved cabriole legs. The carvings that connect the top rail to the arms are very Art Nouveau. The top rail carving is probably best described as Art Nouveau, but less typical. The use of mahogany, the claw feet on the legs, and the generally Art Nouveau styling would date your chair right around 1900.

The best way to determine if you overpaid is to compare that dealers prices with other dealers in the same area. If I had the chair here in Chicago and given that I sell in a generally middle class market, I would price the chair around $350.

Whether or not you have the chair repaired would depend on how the crack affects the structure of the chair. Is the crack all the way through? Is the piece likely to break off during use? If the crack is primarily a visual and not structural flaw, I would leave it alone. If it really bothers you, get an estimate and decide if it is worth it to improve the appearance.

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