Early Wharton Esherick ‘Captain’s Chairs’ in American Walnut and Leather

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Wharton Esherick, ‘Captain’s Chairs’, American walnut, black/ brown leather, United States, 1951

This beautiful set of ‘Captain’s Chairs’ is a striking example of American designer Wharton Esherick’s oeuvre. The chairs both are one of the first ones ever made as they were created in 1951, when Esherick first designed the model. On the bottom of the backrest the chairs have the year 1951 engraved as well as the designer’s initials.
With their balanced composition of proportions and lines, together with the high-quality wood and stunning craftsmanship, the chairs catch the eye. Due to the slightly tapered details of the frame and the curved form of the back- and armrest, the chairs have an airy and dynamic touch. Admirable patina can be seen both on the wood and the strapped leather seating.

The ‘Captain’s Chair’ was one of Esherick’s most popular designs. He hand-carved his mostly unique pieces himself. With the ‘Captain’s Chair’ he collaborated with John Schmidt who then created the ‘Captain’s Chairs’ in his workshop. It was one of the rare models that Esherick sold in multiple numbers. It turned out to be one of his most popular designs and introduced him to more extensive projects and new clients.

American artist, furniture designer and pioneer of the Studio Craft Movement Wharton Esherick (1887-1970) studied printmaking and drawing at Philadelphia School of Industrial Arts (now the University or Arts) and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In the late 1920s Esherick guided his focus towards the design of wooden furniture. His attention to wood was evoked by the creation of illustration woodcuts. Esherick than discovered his passion for wooden sculptures and finally also furniture which he usually just made once. With the acquisition of his works by the Whitney Museum in New York, Esherick found confirmation of his talent with wooden objects.
His oeuvre ranges from arts & crafts to cubism and expressionism. In 1912 his wife and him moved to a small village close to Pennsylvania where they settled down for the rest of their lives. The old farmhouse got dedicatedly extended by Esherick himself. Today, it hosts the Museum of Wharton Esherick, which allows you to admire his designs in the original setting.

The Metropolitan Museum of New York, which exhibited Esherick’s furniture and sculptures already in 1958, also has a ‘Captain’s Chair’ as well as a music stand in their collection.

Please note that this pair of chairs differs in height and also in the color of the leather.

Measurements of the second chair: 76 x 56 x 59 x 44 cm.

Please also note that the condition of the chairs may need some restoration.

VAT within the EU:
When buying or delivering an item within the EU, VAT usually applies and will be added.

Product details

  • Condition Good
  • Creator Wharton Esherick (Designer)
  • Date of Manufacture 1951
  • Dimensions Height 28.75 in. Width 23.04 in. Depth 20.87 in. Seat Height 16.54 in.
  • Dimensions Height 73 cm Width 58.5 cm Depth 53 cm Seat Height 42 cm
  • Materials and Techniques Leather Walnut
  • Period 1950-1959
  • Place of Origin United States
  • Style Mid-Century Modern (of the period)