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Preview image of work. oak,  Joined Great Chair 283

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Joined Great Chair

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William Searle (Devonshire, England, 1634 - 1667, Ipswich, Massachusetts); [school of Thomas Dennis]


Joined Great Chair

Creation Date



17th century


48 1/2 in. x 25 1/2 in. x 17 7/8 in. (123.19 cm. x 64.77 cm. x 45.4 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support


Credit Line

Gift of Ephraim Wilder Farley, Class of 1836


Public Domain

Accession Number


An accomplished joiner born and educated in Devonshire, England, William Searle emigrated to America in 1663. He is believed to have produced this carved chair for his home in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The handsomely carved ornament, with anthropomorphic figures decorating the stiles, is based on the geometric Mannerist strapwork, promoted in Northern Europe through prints and pattern books. Seen on English furniture from the region in which Searle trained, the designs were carried on by at least two generations of joiners in New England. The use of carving increased a chair’s cost, but furniture of local oak furnished many households of Anglo settlers in Massachusetts. Originally given to Bowdoin College for use of the president at Commencement, the chair is now recognized as among the nation’s finest examples of seventeenth-century furniture. It provides a marked contrast to the Dutch side chair, made of lathe-turned parts, on view nearby.

Additional Media

Additional Image 1872.1.side.jpg