This week’s featured piece is the Eastwood chair. This reading chair is in the living room, with the hexagonal library table, the #2341 Morris chair and the big library table.
#347 Eastwood chair
Dimensions: 36″ W x 37″ H x 31 1/2″ D
Date: Ca 1912
Mark: Burned-in joiner’s compass
Designer: Attributed to LaMont Warner
Gift by Paul Fiore to The Craftsman Farms Foundation
In 1972, when Robert Judson Clark interviewed Stickley’s oldest daughter, Barbara Wiles, she said her father “read all the while,” favoring art books and biographies. It is tempting to think that Stickley retreated to the capacious embrace of his Eastwood chair at the north end of the log house living room to do that reading, but we can only guess whether that was true. Still, he seems to have had an Eastwood chair in his Syracuse home as well as at Craftsman Farms, enough evidence to suggest that he favored this design. The present example is not original to the house.
This forthright, out-sized armchair is an emphatically self-confident American product, but its roots lie in a diminutive British armchair that appeared in a 1901 catalog of furniture designed by the architect M. H. Baillie Scott. Yet Stickley’s designers re-imagined the scale and structure and functional qualities of that chair so thoroughly that they made it wholly a Craftsman product. The Eastwood chair was first made in late 1901, but its massiveness and rectilinearity have little in common with many Stickley pieces produced that year and instead point the way to the 1902 designs that mark the high point of Craftsman furniture production. Given Stickley’s superb eye for visually harmonious forms, it is not surprising that he placed his Eastwood chair in the log house living room next to a substantial, largely rectilinear, and evidently one-of-a-kind oak and leather-upholstered settle, a design typical of his best 1902 furniture.
Its visual refinements are few. It does have, however, inverted V-form arches that span the undersides of the arms as well as light catching “clipped corners” at the arms’ front ends.
The bowed, horizontal back slats elegantly angle into the rear stiles, but the back cushion hides this subtle detail.
The Eastwood chair has little articulated joinery. The front legs are mortised through the arms, but otherwise there are no revealed tenons. The mortise and tenon joints that fasten the legs to the stretchers are hidden, though they are locked together with visible dowels that punctuate the surface. But there are none of Stickley’s favored tenon-and-key joints and, except for those on the arms, there are no revealed tenons standing proud of any wooden surface of this chair. Yet the Eastwood chair in its entirety is an expression of pure structure: strong, over scale oak planks arranged into straight horizontal and vertical lines. It may be first and foremost a chair meant for comfort, but it is also a powerful composition of rectangles, and the size and shape and interrelationship of its rectangular solids and voids create a visually satisfying composition. Though to some eyes the Eastwood chair is too big and boxy, its design manages to be both viscerally satisfying and highly sophisticated.
Have you seen all the other featured pieces from our collection?