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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Unknown, American, New England, Enfield, New Hampshire, Shakers

Lowback dining chair
About 1850
Gift of Frank C. and Clara G. Churchill; 46.22.16387


This chair’s turned spindle back, splayed legs, and plank seat derive from the widely popular Windsor chair style. Lowback chairs were used for dining in most Shaker communities. This form was said by Elder Henry Blinn of Canterbury to have first been made in that community by Brother Micajah Tucker in 1834 to replace earlier benches. According to Blinn, the benches “were not convenient, especially if one was obliged to leave the table before the others were ready. All were under necessity of sitting just so far from the table.” In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the Shaker lowback chairs had practical virtues. They were lightweight, strong, and easily wiped for cleaning, and they could be neatly slipped under the table when not in use. This feature helped to give the dining rooms an uncluttered, orderly appearance, which was consonant with the Shakers’ carefully regulated mealtime routines. Given their proximity, the Canterbury and Enfield Shaker communities were in close communication, and goods made by them often shared very similar features. As is often the case with Shaker furniture, the maker of this chair has not been documented.

Last Updated: 5/6/09